Freedom and dignity

2014-04-20 15:00

For Phineus Pilusa, next month’s elections will be reminiscent of the first democratic elections in 1994, when he got a chance to vote for the first time.

After 20 years of democracy, he now finally feels free.

“I felt free when I voted for the first time after Nelson Mandela and others fought for us. It was a historic moment of joy, and our expectations were raised with promises upon promises,” Pilusa said. “While expecting to see more, I found myself sinking in a pool of great disappointment. All the promises for a better life were not happening and our misery continued.”

Now, almost two decades later, the 67-year-old man has something to smile about – he finally has a house.

Gone are the days when he lived in a windowless mud hut that he shared with his wife and two children, which is where City Press found him the first time we visited Mawa Block 9, a village that falls under the Greater Tzaneen Municipality, in July 2011.

When we visited again in 2012, Pilusa’s home was dangerously close to collapse and he despaired of ever receiving an RDP house, which he had applied for 14 years before.

He had to go to the surrounding bush when he needed to use the toilet, and the family had to drink the brackish water his wife fetched from the river.

“My struggle of going back and forth and being sent from pillar to post endlessly filling in application forms for an RDP is finally over. I now feel like I am living in the new South Africa and can say I am really free from apartheid,” Pilusa said.

“I’m short of words whenever I have to explain the feeling of sleeping in a proper house, when I use clean tap water and have a proper brick toilet. I will this time go and vote knowing that my vote will not be in vain and my children will benefit at some point.”

Until he finally received his house a little over a year ago, Pilusa and his neighbours in Mawa Block 9, Bolobedu, were part of what they said was a forgotten community.

Pilusa spent most of his life in a mud home. His circumstances worsened when his second thatch-roofed mud house collapsed in 2000. The family moved into their remaining tiny rondavel and their misery escalated with every blade of thatch their roof shed. The state of their hut worsened with every season.

Winds weakened the roof and when the rains came, terrible leaks gave them sleepless nights.

His home now is also electrified – although paying for it is a problem and he cannot afford to do more than light his house. “I appreciate the electricity now in my new four-room RDP house, although we still cook outside on a wood fire. For the first time, my family can move around freely in our spacious house,” he said.

Pilusa’s new home brought with it a new sense of dignity.

“Life is better and although I am yet to get my own tap in my yard, I can enjoy a good bath with clean water for a change,” he said.

Ward 1

ANC

93.42%

Cope

2.04%

DA, Azapo

0.68%

ACDP, Ximoko Party, APC, ID, PAC

0.45%

IFP, AFD, UIF, FF+

0.23%

Ward 2

ANC

93.48%

Cope

4.52%

APC

0.84%

DA and UDM

0.33%

Azapo, NVP, PAC

0.17%

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