Zuma gives a house for an old friend

2011-11-21 00:00

KWADUMISA residents celebra­ted and cheered the arrival of President Jacob Zuma yesterday evening when he handed over a house to 70-year-old Ntombilezi Phungula.

Mama Phungula, as she is affectionately known, was selected to benefit from an upliftment project by the Jacob Zuma Foundation, which has built similar houses around the country for needy people.

Zuma and Phungula knew each other in the early 60s when they both lived in Chesterville.

“She told the councillors that now that Zuma is president he must come build me a house,” Zuma laughed.

The foundation was contacted at the beginning of the year and construction on the house started three months ago.

“I am very happy that we have achieved something not only for mama but our nation. We need to assist the poorest of the poor and most needy,” Zuma said.

He also thanked Basil Read Construction for funding the construction.

“We thank them for their good work and we need more generous companies like them that will work with us to help the needy.”

Phungula was given the keys to a fully furnished, brand new, two- bedroom house, with a kitchen, lounge and bathroom. Electricity and water was also installed as well as a solar powered geyser.

Marius Heyns, CEO of Basil Read Construction, said, “We are investing the major part of our social investment resources into initiatives where we will have the greatest impact.”

Phungula, who suffered a stroke in 2004, supports six orphaned grandchildren while surviving solely on an old age pension.

“We were touched by her plight because she was living in a self- built, one-room rondavel with her grandchildren,” Zuma said.

Phungula was one of the last people Zuma saw before he went into exile in the 1960s.

“The last time I saw Jacob was on December 27, 1961. Today I will see him again after so many years when he is coming to give me my house,” she beamed.

The wheelchair-bound grandmother said she was over the moon. “I am so happy today I feel like I can jump up to the sky.”

Earlier, the president opened the Rural Women, Widows and Domestic Workers Summit at the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre in Gamalakhe.

The summit, with the theme “Working Together for Equal Opportunities, Safety and Progress for all Women”, focused on substantive issues for consideration towards a Gender Equality bill.

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