Not poor enough to get help

2012-06-07 00:00

A POLITICIAN’S promise 10 years ago to 11 families whose homes were razed in a fire has proved to be hot air.

After they had rebuilt their homes with mud, the government decided that they were not poor enough to qualify for the R10 000 grant per household that the former mayor had pledged.

They had, after all, been able to rebuild their homesteads themselves, it reckoned, and they could not therefore be considered indigent.

Members of the Gomane area of Impendle in the Midlands approached The Witness to help them find out what the government was doing about their situation.

“The mayor of Impendle at the time, Jabulani Zondi, visited us and promised that those who had lost homes would receive help from the government,” said Ndlovu.

The homes burnt down following a runaway fire that had started when a group of girls were braaing during an umemulo ceremony, Echo reported in 2002. The fire killed nine sheep belonging to one of the families.

Ndlovu said that months after the fire the promise of R10 000 turned into offers of RDP housing. But later it reverted to the pledge of money. That was the last time they heard from the mayor.

In 2008 the 11 families petitioned the Public Participation and Petitions Unit in the provincial legislature.

Last year they were told that the matter was being handled by the KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department (Cogta), and that the MEC, Nomusa Dube, would send an official to investigate their claim.

“The MEC, Nomusa Dube, called the mayor of Impendle, Sizwe Ndlela, and said she would send someone to the area to investigate the matter,” Ndlovu said.

He told The Witness that in January an official conducted an investigation into who would qualify for compensation.

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said yesterday the community had received immediate support following the disaster in the form of counselling, blankets and food parcels and they were moved to a temporary place of safety.

He said they would not be compensated as they were not poor enough.

“They rebuilt their houses on their own, and therefore they cannot be considered as indigent people.”

He said it was not the government’s policy to help those who could help themselves.

“These people could afford to rebuild, and therefore they cannot be compensated,” Mabaso told The Witness.

He said the community had set a good example, and he congratulated them.

“People must not expect government to do everything for them. They have raised the bar in that they are willing to do things for themselves.”

He said the government’s priority would always start with indigent people who needed help.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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