'If this is freedom, then I don’t want it,' says Eastern Cape granny

2019-05-11 06:58
Nothembinkosi Nontsasa and her family live in two one-roomed mud houses in Dlibona, Flagstaff. (Sibahle Siqathule, GroundUp)

Nothembinkosi Nontsasa and her family live in two one-roomed mud houses in Dlibona, Flagstaff. (Sibahle Siqathule, GroundUp)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Eighty-year-old Nothembinkosi Nontsasa cuts a defeated figure, sitting outside her crumbling home in Dlibona village in the small Eastern Cape town of Flagstaff, GroundUp reports.

Her adult children can't get IDs, so the family of six survives off her old age pension.

Family and neighbours say the government has failed her, as she lives in "deplorable" conditions. The family shares two one-roomed mud houses, one of which is barely standing after heavy rains last month.

They collect water from a river in the village. The pit toilet built by the municipality was destroyed, so they use the bushes to relieve themselves.

Nontsasa said she does not feel like she is living in a modern day, free South Africa.

"If this is what they call freedom, then I don't want it. This is not real freedom. This is freedom to starve, freedom to be exposed to the rain and wind, freedom to live like wild animals."

She is the only person with a steady income in the household.

Her children do not have identity documents because of an issue with her own ID.

"My children cannot get proper work or go to university because they don't have IDs. [The Department of] Home Affairs says I am too old to have given birth to my children. They don't believe I am their mother," said Nontsasa.

As a result, Nontsasa's daughter Andiswa cannot apply for social grants for her three children. She and the brother who also live in the house get piece jobs when they can and also collect cans from the local dumping site and sell them for a few rand.

Andiswa Nontsasa says it has been a losing battle to get her ID.

"It feels like I'm a foreigner in my own country. I need this ID in order for my children to get birth certificates. We need to access grants for them. This situation is really unfair on them," she said.

'Government has really failed here'

Nobongile Makholosa, a concerned neighbour, believes that the blame should be put squarely on the government for not taking action to help the Nontsasa family.

"I feel that the municipality should have intervened a long time ago. How can you allow children and an old woman to live in such poverty if you really care about your people? Government has really failed here," said Makholosa.

Ward councillor Thandeka Nzumo said she was aware of the family's struggle for proper housing and identity documents and was trying to help.

"I have made initial contact with various government departments to try and help this family. We identified it as destitute. So I will have to make follow-up meetings with Home Affairs and Human Settlements departments soon," said Nzumo.

Ingquza Hill local municipality mayor Bambezakhe Goya thanked GroundUp for alerting him to the family and promised to look into the issue.

"It is not our wish as government that there be a person living in as horrid conditions as those that you have described. I will be getting in contact with the councillor of Dlibona village to get all of the necessary details to be able to assess this situation," said Goya.

Flagstaff home affairs manager Fikile Lurhwengu did not respond to GroundUp's calls. But national spokesperson Thabo Makgola asked for the family's details and promised to forward them to the provincial manager for investigation.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  service delivery
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.