Waterloo houses ‘risky’

2017-10-26 06:00

TWO weeks after Coastal Weekly published a story about crumbling homes in Waterloo, DA leaders from national and provincial government visited some of the affected houses on Monday, October 15.

The aim was to examine the extent of the “crumbling” houses and the living conditions residents are subjected to every day.

MPs and ward councillors from various wards in eThekwini Municipality said the houses were not meant for people to “settle in”.

The delegation included Solly Malatsi­ (DA shadow minister of Human Settlements), Mbulelo Bara (deputy), Zwakele Mncwango (DA KZN provincial leader), Tim Brauteseth (North Central Durban constituency head), George Mari (Human Settlements spokesperson) and ward councillors.

“The residents occupying these houses are more at risk because at any given time these houses can collapse.

“That is the major issue. It is very clear that the families who live in the houses need alternative accommodation.

“At any given time disaster can strike and this would be human manufactured because of the poor quality of the work. Now that the matter is in Parliament I think the pressure will be excessive from our side because [this is not] just an issue for municipality,” said Malatsi.

He said that they will put pressure on the portfolio committee and ask them to come and see the houses themselves so that they can understand the magnitude of the risk that the residents face on a daily basis.

Bara said: “Every time there is a storm or strong wind [residents] fears for their lives. It’s really frightening. This shouldn’t be a home for someone. Our people are desperate for houses, they accept whatever is provided to them because they want shelter over their heads. But I don’t think that it means they must be placed in a house that is made without cement, where you see it’s purely sand not mixed with cement and let a family live under such conditions.”

Bara said that if nothing is done in this situation people are going to die and public servants will be blamed for being negligent.

“People will say we were here as members of Parliament and left without doing anything about it. We are here to see stories like these because [such] stories are not told. This is not a good story to tell.

“The lady fears for her life and every night she doesn’t know whether she will wake up the next day because her house can collapse. If the house collapses from the top of the others you don’t know how that will spill over to the rest of them. I think this place is specifically not meant for people to settle in. The people must be moved to a safe place even if it means there must be no house that is built here.”

During the site visit MPs and ward councillors talked to the home owners whose houses were affected.

One of the residents, Zandile Tshumani (44) wept as the leaders inspected her house.

Tshumani told the MPs that her house started to have severe cracks the day it was allocated to her 12 years ago.

“I didn’t have an alternative because I am unemployed. I moved in to this house even though I knew it was not good for me. I complained to the former councillor but nothing was done about it. My house can collapse anytime due to the severe cracks on the wall.”

The oversight visit started in Mayville transit camps in the morning and later proceeded to Waterloo and Flamingo Heights in Tongaat.

Flamingo Heights tenants residing in council flats asked the leaders to assist them get title deeds for their flats.

Mncwango said: “As the opposition our responsibility is to put pressure on the government because our democracy doesn’t say we must always oppose. We rather come up with suggestions.”

Mncwango said all areas where they conducted an oversight visit it was clear that there was a need to report back to the council.

“I believe that the council should assist the residents. We will go back to the council and report the problems that the people of these areas are facing. It emerged that the council is not proactive, we always react when they is a disaster. The issue of the Tongaat residents needs to be examined carefully and figure out what were the terms and conditions of their agreement with the council. Was it rent-to-buy or rent-forever agreement? If the agreement says the tenants must be given ownership of the house after 20 years that must happen. We will go through the paper work and find out what the residents signed for.”

Mncwango promised that they will continue conducting site visits to other areas and assist the residents.

PENDING…eThekwini Municipality.

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