A home, my life for a home

2012-04-14 15:02

Phineus Pilusa looks two decades older than his 65 years.

His scrawny frame, yellow rotting teeth, eyes retreating deep into their sockets and rugged hands with cracked skin bear testimony to his years of struggle to make it through each day.

Two decades after the fall of apartheid, he still has to run to the bush when nature calls.

He shares a tiny, windowless, leaky thatched hut with his wife and two children, and they have no choice but to drink the brackish water his wife fetches from
the river.

The river is dry and local women dig wells in the sandy river bed.

Their families rely on what they manage to scoop out.

Little has changed for Pilusa, who lives in the village of Mawa Block 9 in Bolobedu outside Tzaneen in Limpopo’s Mopani district.

When City Press visited him in July last year, he told us that he first applied for an RDP house 14 years ago.

He has lost count of how many times he has applied again over the years.

Just last Wednesday, officials from the Greater Tzaneen Municipality visited the area to register people on their RDP waiting list – again.

Although Pilusa attended the meeting, he says he has lost all hope that his family will ever receive a house in his lifetime.

“Nothing has changed. It’s all the same,” he said of his situation.

“Last week they called us into a meeting at the Masefhara Primary School. The local councillor came out and made us sign for houses. He put us on the waiting list once again. They didn’t tell us when we will get the houses; they just put us on the list and left.”

He says he needs a house desperately.

“I will worry about toothpaste when I don’t have to run to the bushes to s*** when I’m pressed. I will worry about that when I no longer have to worry about rain leaking into my hut during summer months. I just need a house.”

Pilusa gestures towards his hut, which is dark inside and, besides a small bed, contains few worldly possessions.

“Look at this! It is about to fall on me and my family at any time. I can’t continue sleeping with my children in there.”

While Pilusa and his family live in these appalling conditions, the Greater Tzaneen Municipality’s vision is to become “the fastest-growing economy in Limpopo, where all households have access to basic services”.

When City Press visited the area this week, the council was busy grading main and access roads – all of which are gravel roads – in the Mawa area. Mayor Dikeledi Mmetle said about 4km of road had been graded in Block 9.

More roads in blocks 8, 10, 11 and 12, which form Ward 2 of the Greater Tzaneen Municipality, have also been worked on.

Many more roads, says Mmetle, have also been graded in almost all the 34 villages that form part of Bolobedu, which previously fell under the jurisdiction of the Lebowa bantustan.

Mmetle also boasted about having electrified all 34 villages, save for a small remnant in Mawa blocks 9 and 12.

“I have also built two low-level bridges in the area. Look, in our service delivery audit, Mawa was the most disadvantaged area, but things have improved tremendously.

“We have electrified all the communities, schools and clinics.”

However, a daunting task still lies ahead for her municipality – to electrify all households and grade all roads in the 125 villages that fall under their jurisdiction.

Alex Silowa, another resident of Block 9 who also has neither a house nor electricity, says power is his most pressing requirement.

Silowa also attended the meeting at which the councillors promised houses, and said: “We will be very excited if they build us RDPs, but we need electricity first.

“They promised us electricity and houses, but the prospects don’t look good seeing that they have been promising us electricity since 2007, but we are still waiting.

“Maybe we have to wait for about 25 years. We don’t have hope. We have been waiting for many years now.”

Silowa lives in a section called Rwanda, the newer section of Block 9, which was established in 1993 and consists of 250 stands and households.

Like many who are still waiting for low-cost government homes, Silowa has built himself and his family of five a three-roomed house with mud bricks.

“We cook outside and use all three rooms for sleeping,” he says.

Mmetle said the municipality carts water at least twice a week to areas that have no water at all.

But another resident of Rwanda, Evans Morwatshehla, said the municipality was not dependable.

“Sometimes they come and sometimes they don’t, and if they don’t, we have no option but to go to the rivers to fetch water.”

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