Shack dwellers fight for better lives

2019-03-20 06:01
PHOTO: andile sitholeWendy houses near the main road in Cool Air.

PHOTO: andile sitholeWendy houses near the main road in Cool Air.

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MORE than five families in the Cool Air area in uMshwathi who have been living in Wendy houses for more than a year have lodged an official complaint, demanding better housing.

The residents, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, claimed to have been living in the Wendy houses with no water and electricity since 2016.

The dwellers said when they were removed from their homes in 2016 they were promised better houses by Ward Councillor Sbongile Mbatha-Ntuli.

The Gazette visited the area on Thursday, March 14 to speak to the residents, who complained about poor service delivery. Some of the residents claimed that the planks of their Wendy houses were falling part.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of unknown people demolished one of the shacks in the informal settlement.

It is alleged that the angry group threatened to demolish other houses in the area if the residents continue to complain about the ward councillor to the media.

“We were not at home when the angry men and women demolished one of the houses. When I came back, I met a group of angry people who told me that they were coming back to demolish my house because we bad mouthed the ward councillor to the Greytown Gazette journalist,” a resident said.

Another resident said: “We were moved to the disaster houses as a temporary measure until the Department for Human Settlement could build RDP houses for us. When the RDP units were completed, we were left behind.

“We are cramped into small rooms with our babies and brothers. I want to know how long we have to stay in these houses for,” the frustrated resident said.

When the Gazette contacted Mbatha-Ntuli for a comment she denied sending people to demolish the shacks.

“They are not telling you the truth.

“They used to have a toilet, however, due to many people making use of it, the toilet was full. I built this toilet using my money, it cost me R500.

“We got three water taps on the main road near their homes. Two kilometres away from their houses is another water tap near the community hall,” Mbatha-Ntuli said.

She explained that the allocation into the RDP houses will resume once the commissioning of bulk services by UMDM water and sanitation are in place and the Department of Transport has completed the access roads in the area.

“Project Dalton Cool Air houses has 437 units excluding seven sites for sports field hall, creche etc,” she added.

Mbatha-Ntuli refuted claims that she gave the RDP houses to her friends.

“As the leader I am quite aware that enemies will always find something bad against me.

“Beneficiaries applied for houses to the Department of Human Settlements. If your application is approved then they locate the site with a number.

“When applications are rejected [the department] explains [to the residents] why the application was unsuccessful. In most cases it happens when a person has owned an RDP house before or the salary is more than the acceptable requirement, which is R0 - R3 500. Also, the applicant must be 18 years and above [to qualify for the RDP house].

“I respect my job. I know how to draw a line between my friends and my job as the ward councillor.

“I have been the councillor since 1997, I am aware that when the day for the elections is around the corner people make up baseless accusations,” Mbatha-Ntuli said.

When the Gazette called the residents on Monday, March 28, they said the ward councillor had assured them that they will get RDP houses when the allocation of RDP houses takes place in the area.


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