Official threatened me with old age home, says granny in leaking RDP house

2017-07-20 08:04
Elsie Dopholo in her house in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. (Maqulo Nyakombi, GroundUp)

Elsie Dopholo in her house in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. (Maqulo Nyakombi, GroundUp)

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Eastern Cape - Elsie Dopholo, 75, of Unifound Location in Queenstown, says she has been threatened with being sent to an old age home if she does not shut up about her cracking and leaking RDP house.

GroundUp published Dopholo’s story in December after the municipality had failed to renovate her house despite her pleading with them for years. She received the house in 1999 and refused to sign for it because of its poor construction.

Dopholo said she had lost all hope of receiving a decent house but had nevertheless decided not to stop fighting.

When she heard that the Lukhanji municipality was disestablished and merged with Inkwanca and Tsolwana to form Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality in August 2016, she went back to the municipal offices to report the condition of her house.

Getting no help, she went to the ANC office in Queenstown on July 13. The receptionist told her the matter did not involve the ANC and then phoned the municipality for her. Dopholo said she spoke with an official who identified herself as Luleka Gubula.

No budget 

Gubula told her there was no budget to fix the house. The discussion became heated, with Dopholo saying that other poorly constructed houses received by people in the community had been rebuilt by the municipality.

This is when, she says, Gubula got angry and told her that the mayor had ordered her to be sent to an old age home if she does not keep quiet about her house.

“I will rather stay in my cold shack than go to an old age home,” Dopholo told GroundUp on the phone, in tears. “All I wanted from them was assistance to fix my house, not to be threatened by being sent to an old age home. Gubula did not even care about my crying; she told me she’s following an order from the mayor.”

Gubula is portfolio head for human settlements at Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality. She was mayor of Inkwanca Local Municipality before the merger. GroundUp has been trying unsuccessfully to get hold of Gubula directly. Yolly Marepula, spokesperson for Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality Mayor Lindiwe Gunuza, said there would be a meeting with Gubula regarding this matter.

Questions sent about Dopholo’s house to municipal spokesperson Fundile Feketshana in March and again in May have never been answered. He said he would forward the matter to the human settlements office. Reminders sent by GroundUp were not answered.

Response 

Response from Councillor Luleka Gubula received after publication by GroundUp:

It was late last year when Ms Dopholo came to the office to report the issue of her house that has a leaking roof and it is difficult for her to stay in her house, and stays in a shack in her yard.

In receiving the report I sent officials to go and inspect the house and a report confirmed that indeed her house was unstayable.

The function of building houses is not the municipality function but only the administration. It is the Department of Human settlement in the province responsible for this function. We made a request to the Regional office for the house to be rectified but the department informed us that for 2017/2018 financial year there is no budget for rectification of houses, even the rectification projects that are taking place in other areas, have come to a hauler [sic] and that the budget is not enough. We also have noticed that most of the houses in her area are also in a bad shape.

I brought this matter to the executive mayor and during our discussion influenced by the ill health of Ms Dopholo. We recommended that since there is no budget to assist Ms Dopholo at the moment we recommended to her that she move to sunshine village where at the time we had two vacant flats. She did not want to move to the place. We left the matter as such.

Recently I was called by the ANC office concerning the matter, and we informed them that she has declined to move as a temporary solution

Read more on:    east london  |  service delivery  |  housing

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