Disabled 72-year-old trapped alone in her shack all day

2017-03-07 08:16
Beauty Qamata, 72, spends her days alone and immobile in her shack, with no toilet, running water or electricity. (Photo: Mbulelo Sisulu, GroundUp)

Beauty Qamata, 72, spends her days alone and immobile in her shack, with no toilet, running water or electricity. (Photo: Mbulelo Sisulu, GroundUp)

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East London – Beauty Qamata, 72, lost her legs to diabetes three years ago. She spends her days immobile, alone in her shack near Mdantsane, with no running water, no electricity, and no toilet.

The former domestic worker sits on her bed in her shack in the Bacawa informal settlement. There is a cupboard, a wardrobe, and a little bedside table. She has no fridge because there is no electricity. To cook, she uses a small paraffin stove placed on a chair near her bed.

Qamata lives with her grandson Chumani, 22, who sleeps in the shack’s second room and spends very little time at home. When he is not at school, he is out with friends.

Before he goes to school in the morning, and on weekends, Chumani goes to the public tap to fetch water for his grandmother.

There is no toilet in the house and Qamata has to use adult diapers. She told GroundUp that she changes the nappies herself, puts the used ones in a plastic bag and leaves them for Chumani to throw away at the nearby dump.

'I survive by borrowing money'

Beauty has been living in the shack since 1994 and has applied for a house "countless times".

"Every time during elections I vote, but my vote means nothing. When they want our votes, they issue transport to take us to the voting stations. Our municipality and previous councillors know my situation. But nothing is happening."

She is afraid of fire.

"If this shack burns, I can burn and die here, because I cannot walk or run."

Every month, she spends R520 on nappies. With what is left of her social grant she has to buy food and paraffin and repay the people she borrows money from every month.

"Before the month comes to an end, I have to go and borrow money again. So my life is like that, I survive by borrowing money."

Her sons and other members of her family live far away.

Councillor Gwebile Kosani told GroundUp the provincial department of human settlements had visited Qamata.

"Beauty and other disabled people are the first priority. They are going to get houses once the municipality and the department have land," he said, without giving a time frame.

Read more on:    east london  |  service delivery  |  housing

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