Lockdown: 72 families living in tents thrilled to be moved into temporary wooden houses

2020-04-25 08:16
New temporary houses in Wilgespruit, Gauteng.

New temporary houses in Wilgespruit, Gauteng. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

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"Thank you Lord. You have answered our prayers."

These are the words of Lesotho national Mmathabo Rasehloho after hearing on Friday she would be moved from a tent in an informal settlement in Wilgespruit, Roodepoort, to a temporary home in the area.

Rasehloho and her family are among 72 families who are expected to move into new temporary structures made of wood.

The families, who reside on plot 323 in Wilgespruit, survive by recycling plastic.

They are expected to occupy their new homes within the next few days.

READ | Government to build temporary wooden houses in bid to aid physical distancing

So far, only two houses have been built and the rest would be completed soon, according to Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

It takes under an hour to complete a single unit. 

"I have been struggling with proper shelter for the five years that I have been in this country. I am unemployed and surviving on collecting recyclable material.  

"I am happy for what the South African government has done for us. We moved in here a few months ago after being evicted from a plot we had earlier occupied. We never thought that our lives will change for the better," Rasehloho said.

Residents complained the rainy and cold weather were their main challenges.

Her neighbour, Mabokhenene Hlalane, said life in a tent was similar to living on an open field without a roof over your head.

"When it rains, water runs inside our tents. When it is cold, these tents are also cold, when it is windy they shake as if they would be blown away with us inside.

"I am speechless and never thought that as a Lesotho national, I would one day own a proper house in South Africa. I want to thank Lindiwe Sisulu for accommodating all of us regardless of where we come from," added Hlalane.

James Mpofu also complained recent heavy rains in the area had given him sleepless nights.

"We are now going to move into proper houses that will save us and our belongings from being damaged by the rain. Our children are going to stay in warm homes.

"I don't know how to thank Sisulu. She showed us motherly love. She is [a] God-send and I thank her for changing our lives when we were faced with serious challenges inside our tents," Mpofu said.

Sisulu told residents the department would ensure the contractor on site would stick to the stipulated deadline.

"We have made a decision to change your lives. Our people deserve proper decent shelter and have to maintain social distance as well access to basic services like water and toilets.

"I am happy that residents here are clean and are maintaining this area very well. They are also doing something important to put bread on their table. This government is faced with challenges of improving lives in many informal settlements.

"We are also going to protect you by installing a fence. We want you to stay in a safe environment," said Sisulu.

Read more on:    coronavirus  |  lockdown  |  housing
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