Man’s death blamed on govt housing

2011-11-28 00:00

THE death of a 39-year-old father of three, who was buried yesterday, has been blamed on the allegedly shoddy construction of government subsidised houses at Umlazi, south of Durban.

Julius Khumalo was laid to rest at his South Coast hometown of Mthwalume after he died when a neighbour’s house fell on him during a storm last weekend.

He was killed instantly.

Khumalo’s sister, Nombulelo, said he was asleep in his house when the storm swept through the area, damaging many houses in the neighbourhood.

“Most government subsidy houses at J-section are collapsing, despite the fact that they were constructed less than three years ago. Some houses have cracks and others are being supported by rocks and bricks as they are collapsing.

“During the storm a neighbour’s house collapsed on top of my brother while he was asleep. He died instantly.

“Another house next door was literally swept away during the storm, but fortunately its occupants were not in at the time.”

Nombulelo said the death of her brother was a blow to the family, and especially to his three children aged between nine and 16, who are now orphans. Their mother died last year.

KZN’s new MEC for Human Settlement, Ravi Pillay, said it was the first he had heard about the incident and promised to investigate the community’s grievances about the housing project.

The Inkatha Freedom Party issued a statement at the weekend incorrectly blaming Zikhulise Maintenance and Transport owned by Durban socialite Shawn Mpisane.

The company has previously been in the news over similar claims of shoddy construction in other projects in Umlazi.

But it emerged yesterday that another company had built the J-Section houses in question.

A spokesperson for Zikhulise, Vuyo Mkhize, said the company would write to the IFP requesting an “immediate retraction of its defamatory statement and an unconditional apology for the prejudice caused”, failing which a defamation suit would be instituted.

IFP MPL Joshua Mazibuko said his party will issue a retraction today.

He said he would ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the construction of low-cost housing in Umlazi.

“When you visit the area and see those houses, it becomes clear that whoever was working there did not have the interests of the residents at heart,” Mkhize said.

Local councillor Mathi Mnyandu confirmed that another company had built the houses.

Mnyandu claimed the municipality is rebuilding most houses erected by the company “as they are not suitable to house human beings”.

“Some time back the council started negotiating with the provincial department to provide funds for the reconstruction of these houses. It’s a pity that a life was lost before that work had started.”

While the company’s name is known to The Witness, its owners could not be reached for comment last night.

eThekwini municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said the municipality will decide on appropriate steps once the assessment of storm damage across eThekwini is completed.


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