One year on: blind gran and kids still in garage

2011-08-10 00:00

A BLIND 67-year-old woman and her 10 grandchildren have been living in her garage for a year after her house in Imbali burned down.

Mtombo Radebe says she and her grandchildren have been living in horrible conditions. They share a single room that serves as a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a lounge with a thin curtain separating the bathroom and bedroom from the kitchen and lounge area.

Despite many promises from public figures to help rebuild her home, nothing has changed.

Radebe said her house burned down when one of her grandchildren accidentally set a blanket on fire while looking for an item under the bed.

The fire spread and soon the whole house was ablaze. All that remained intact was the garage.

“When the fire started I felt something warm against my feet and I heard the children screaming, ‘Grandmother is inside!’ and that is when I realised the house was on fire.

“I tried to get out but because I am blind I found myself knocked to the floor, and the children had to come and drag me outside.”

She said her family lost everything.

“My community members collected donations to help me, but we have yet to see a cent of that money.”

“When all the children are back from school, including the boys who are studying away, it is very difficult to sleep.”

Asked how the family might be helped, Mandla Ngema of Social Development said the building of homes is the responsibility of the Human Settlement department.

“We do not get involved in the building of houses; we look after the emotional and social wellbeing of the family and their welfare.”

A spokesperson for Human Settlement, Sureshinee Govender, said the department is aware of Radebe’s situation and is finalising the tender process for rebuilding the house.

She said a contractor is expected to be on site by the first week of September.

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