A modern-day homecoming for the destitute

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The KwaZulu-Natal provincial risk assessment team is investigating why community members have not received their houses. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial risk assessment team is investigating why community members have not received their houses. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza

Thursday evening. The temperature is plummeting in Sibongile township’s extension 20, near Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal. The lights are fading even faster. There’s no electricity – or streetlights – in extension 20. My hands are shaking from the cold and I’m squinting as I battle to take notes on the side of the road.

I might be hopping from foot to foot to keep warm, but the woman who is talking to me has my undivided attention. The woman is pissed off. Even in the failing light, I can see the anger and desperation in her eyes. And hear it in her voice.

The woman was born and bred in Dundee. She grew up in Sibongile township. She doesn’t earn enough to buy a house. In 2014, she did the logical thing and applied to the Endumeni local municipality for an RDP house. She filled in all the forms and did a means test, the works.

The woman went about her business, trying to survive. Then, last year, she got an SMS from the Endumeni council. “You’ve been allocated house number what-what in extension 20.”

She was stoked. Rightly so. This is what she and the rest of us, with the exception of racist nutters like Andre Slade, voted for. Service delivery. Tax money well spent. A good story to tell, baby.

The woman got up early the next day. She headed off to the Endumeni council office in Victoria Street. She got her letter of purchase and headed off to extension 20. She was on top of the world – she was about to get her own pozzie.

She arrived at extension 20. Walked up to her house. But there was a snag – there was some Muppet living in her RDP house, looking all comfortable with a brand new Toyota 4x4 parked in the yard.

The woman was peeved. Rightly so.

She asked the Muppet what he was doing in her RDP house. She showed him the SMS and suggested that he gather up his flock. The Muppet, who just happened to be the nephew of a member of the ward’s housing committee set up to facilitate drafting the waiting list for RDP houses, was having none of it. He said it was his house. Told her to get lost.

The woman went to see the councillor. The councillor said there was nothing he could do. He told her to go see the implementing agent for extension 20.

The agent told her to shut her mouth or he’d take her off the list. For good.

The woman went home to her parents’ house and the outside room that she’s sharing with her two kids.

Follow me on Twitter @PaddyHarper1

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