Flamboyant businesswoman and socialite Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize wants to give back to the community of KwaZulu-Natal by building 20 houses for some of the families left displaced and homeless by the devastating floods.
About 15 000 houses were damaged or swept away during the torrential rains that hit the province a fortnight ago.
The floods also claimed the lives of 435 people, while dozens more are still missing.
Last week, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said government would build temporary homes for people whose houses had been lost.
“Most of the homes [that] were washed away were in places where we should not send them back to.
“We should not build in those places again,” said Dlamini-Zuma, adding that a search for land to build permanent homes would start “as soon as possible”.
MaMkhize wants to add to the relief efforts. She told City Press that she felt compelled to reach out to the communities.
The Royal AM football club boss said she had already identified land in KwaDabeka in Clermont and was in the process of securing it before starting with the project. When asked how much she would spend on the project, she was quick to say it was not about money.
“All I want to do is lend a helping hand and make a difference where I can. It’s not about me, but about those destitute families. I don’t want to hog the limelight for this.”
MaMkhize has had her fair share of criticism over how much she flaunts her wealth. She came under fire for handing out cash bonuses to players following their game against Maritzburg United in October.
This time, however, she is using her vast riches for good. “I want to give hope during these challenging times. I am a servant of God and I believe that God has sent me to help them.”
It seems she has been giving back to communities for a long time. She said she previously built and refurbished 20 houses.
“I cannot imagine what those families are going through. Imagine having lost everything and now being forced to be accommodated in a hall. I can’t just fold my arms and do nothing about this situation.”
On how she would select the beneficiaries, MaMkhize said the provincial human settlements department would identify them.
“I don’t know who is going to benefit because it is not my call. I have asked the municipality to identify about 20 families from the affected communities.
Mamkhize highlighted empowerment of the locals in the process.
“I know there are many people affected and left homeless, but I can only do so much.”
The eThekwini Municipality will buy the land on which the homes will be built, she said.
“I initially wanted to build a high-rise building, but, from what I have seen, it won’t be possible. I will now go for four-roomed houses.”
The project will be in partnership with the department of correctional services, which will provide labour.
“It’s not the first time that I am doing this with the department. Remember, they have prisoners who are doing labour courses including building, carpentry, plumbing and electricity. So we are going to use some of those people, with supervision from qualified personnel.
“This is part of their internship. [It is a winning model], if you think properly about it, because, at the end of the project, they are going to be given certificates of completion of work.
“So it works both ways because we give them the needed experience and they get the certificate.”
MaMkhize denied reports that she had previously built substandard houses.
Meanwhile, the human settlements department said the province needed R1.8 billion to assist those whose homes had been lost in the floods.