Durban informal settlement a ticking time bomb - deputy public protector

2016-04-15 16:31
Kevin Malunga (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Kevin Malunga (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Durban – Kennedy Road informal settlement is a ticking time bomb that, if not addressed, will result in riots, service delivery protests and even loss of life, Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga warned on Friday.

Malunga was speaking at the Durban informal settlement where he was doing an on-site inspection to check whether there had been developments since the Office of the Public Protector last visited in December.

The inspection was part of an ongoing investigation into resolving security and service delivery concerns at the Glebelands hostel and informal settlement.

On Friday morning, Malunga patiently navigated through the maze-like settlement, ducking under exposed, illegally-connected electricity cables which criss-crossed above his head.

He spoke to residents to find out if the city had fulfilled its commitment to ensure that there was water, electricity, a functioning sewerage system, and refuse collection.

He also wanted to know whether proper homes, and a retaining wall to prevent structures from collapsing, were being built.

He was disappointed to find that the eThekwini Municipality had done little to improve the lives of the community.

During the inspection, Malunga sat on a bench to speak to a young mother who had lost a son after he was electrocuted by exposed cables which had been connected illegally.

'Our shacks always burn'

The woman was among a group of women gathered on a veranda doing their washing.

Andiswa Zulu, 23, told Malunga that her 2-year-old son had died last month.

"He was playing outside and he touched a cable. I was called by someone who saw what happened and when I came outside I saw him burnt on the floor."

The woman, who started living in Kennedy Road in 2012, said little had changed since she joined the community.

"The cables are still exposed and many other children are at risk. We would love to have electricity in the house, but this is killing our children."

Her son was one of three children who had been electrocuted in just one section of the settlement.

Members of the community admitted that they had illegally connected electricity because the city was stalling on the process.

Nomagugu Mzizi, 40, has lived in Kennedy Road for 14 years.

She said: "I have three children and I am unemployed. Our shacks always burn and we report the matter to the police and nothing happens. We live in mud, we don't have toilets and use plastic bags as our toilets.

"There are no jobs. Some people received houses and others didn't."

'We cannot live like this anymore'

Sitting in the shade at the entrance of his shack, Michael Mkhize said: "We don't have electricity and we live in filth.

"We strike by blocking the roads, but the city does not do anything about it. They come here and bluff us, saying they will do something about it."

Another resident, who did not identify himself, said: "So many promises have been made to us. We are tired. We need houses. We cannot live like this anymore. There are little children, sick people and there are very poor households.

"After it rains, there is mud everywhere. Cockroaches crawl all over you and some people are being bitten by rats and there are mosquitoes everywhere."

An elderly woman, who was sitting on the floor doing her washing, said her house was cracking.

Constance Nshonga, 59, said the house cost R35 000 to build. Only a bed fits into one room and she uses empty beer crates as chairs for her guests.

The woman with nine grandchildren said she came to Kennedy Road in the 1990s.

"I have been to the councillor so many times. No human being deserves to live in these conditions. But maybe God will give us proper houses one day instead of these cardboard boxes that we live in."

Read more on:    kevin malunga  |  durban  |  housing

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