Sad end to 'Doris Project'

2016-02-04 08:39
Doris Ryan, 84, who was taken in by a metro police officer after he responded to a house breaking call at her home. (Amanda Khoza, News4)

Doris Ryan, 84, who was taken in by a metro police officer after he responded to a house breaking call at her home. (Amanda Khoza, News4)

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Durban – Efforts to repair an elderly Durban woman’s rundown Malvern house have been brought to a halt.

Doris Ryan’s house was declared unsafe and she would not return to it, ending residents’ efforts to repair it. The 84-year-old would move into an old age home.

In December, Ryan called police when her house was burgled. When Inspector Victor Botha from the metro police dog unit and his partner arrived, they were stunned to find Ryan and her caregiver, Phumelele Majozi, 57, living in squalor.

He said Ryan, who needed a walking stick to get around, could not describe the suspects. She had been unable to see them because she could not lift her head. She only saw their shadows and shouted for them to get out. They had fled by the time the officers arrived.

Botha called Jeff Verity from the Burro Community Assistance group and the men started what they called the 'Doris Project' to repair her dilapidated house.

- Read more: Police 'bloody marvellous' says Malvern pensioner

Verity posted details of her story on Facebook and WhatsApp and was overwhelmed by the response. People offered to help clean the house, cut the grass, fix the roof, and repaint it.

Chrissie Steyn, who took in Ryan and Majozi while the house was being renovated, said the municipality went to the house two weeks ago.

“The health and building inspectors said even if we tried our best to renovate the house she cannot come back because the walls are caving in,” said Steyn.

She said the walls started to crack when new roof beams were put in. A relative suggested selling the house.

She had told the pair they could stay for as long as they needed. “We are all upset by the turn of events,” said Steyn.

'She just cries'

Majozi had worked for Ryan for more than 30 years and was employed as a domestic worker by Ryan’s mother. She said she did not want Ryan to be taken to an old age home and feared losing her job.

“When I speak to Doris she just cries. Someone needs to explain to me what is really happening. I was told that when Doris goes to the home, I will be taken back home to KwaMaphumulo.

“I have worked with Doris for 31 years this year. If they want to let me go then they should compensate me for all the years I have dedicated to her.”

A family member said Ryan was devastated about her house and wanted the media to leave her alone. “She has gone through enough. I just want her to be cushioned in cotton wool,” said the woman, who did not want to be named.

The eThekwini municipality was not immediately available to comment.

Read more on:    durban

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