Living in shipping containers for 12 years: 'They left us here with no toilets and no electricity'

2019-04-17 15:10
22 families live in 11 shipping containers on the corner of Lerotholi Avenue and Rhodes Street, Langa in Cape Town. (Ella Ndongeni/GroundUp)

22 families live in 11 shipping containers on the corner of Lerotholi Avenue and Rhodes Street, Langa in Cape Town. (Ella Ndongeni/GroundUp)

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


WATCH: 'I don't know where I'm sleeping tonight' - Joe Slovo informal settlement evictee

2018-11-07 19:37

Eighteen families who refused to vacate a piece of land meant for a housing project in Joe Slovo, Langa have been evicted.WATCH

More than 20 families have spent 12 years living in shipping containers on the corner of Lerotholi Avenue and Rhodes Street in Langa Cape Town, GroundUp reported.

Each of the 11 containers houses two families, partitioned with ceiling boards.

The 22 families were moved in 2006 from the New Flats hostels (among the oldest hostels in Langa) under the City of Cape Town Hostels Redevelopment programme.

Nomsa Lawu lives in her half of a container with her three children. There is barely space to move. The stove is up against the bed, which stands on bricks to create storage space underneath.

"They said it was temporary – for three months. They said we would benefit from the then-housing project … Can 12 years be still considered temporary?" asks Lawu. "They left us here with no toilets and no electricity."

Her neighbour is Phumeza Qhutyelwa, who lives with her 75-year-old mother and three children. A double bed takes up most of the space. The family keeps clothes and bedding in plastic bin bags. She says the containers have mould.

Humiliating way to live

Qhutyelwa says this is a humiliating way to live. "There is no electricity here; no toilets. We have to go knocking on people's doors to ask for these services."

"At night you must hold … We use the buckets for the children," says Qhutyelwa.

Life was better in the hostels, as bad as they were, she says. "We had toilets and electricity and, yes, there was not much privacy because we shared with other families, but I could move around my place … Not like this."

Phumeza Qhutyelwa lives in half a shipping contain

Phumeza Qhutyelwa lives in half a shipping container with her three children and 75-year-old mother. (Ella Ndongeni/GroundUp)

Mayco member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said: "During the implementation of the hostel conversion programme, some people unfortunately could not be accommodated in the converted units because the development was only confined to the hostel footprint, hence there were more people than the available units."

Booi said the container residents would be accommodated in Phase 2 of the Hostel Transformation Project in New Flats.

"The residents are also represented on the New Flats Project Steering Committee, which informs them of the project's progress. In terms of the project, the tender publication will commence once the zoning approval has been finalised… If all goes as planned, construction will start mid next year," said Booi.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    cape town  |  housing  |  service delivery

Join the conversation! 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.


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 network.


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.