Protea Glen is the area of choice for Soweto’s up and coming. It’s not hard to see why.
Beautiful houses with high walls and fancy steel gates vie for attention in this quiet neighbourhood. The streets are clean and the roads are wide and clearly marked.
Veli Ngema and his family have lived in this part of Soweto for more than two decades.
He is among the 11% of Sowetans who live in bonded houses, according to Class in Soweto, published by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Press.
Ngema describes himself as middle class.
“I have most of the material things one could say are owned by the middle class,” says the married father of five. “We have cars, laptops, smartphones and the latest home appliances.”
He works as a graphic designer and owns a successful small business, one of 6% of Sowetans to do so, according to the study.
His kitchen features built-in oak cupboards and metallic-finished appliances.
The walls in the lounge and dining room are covered in gamazine, a sparkled coating of crushed stone, coloured quartz and marble chips. A huge LG plasma-screen TV and high-powered Sony sound system are the lounge’s main attractions.
Life has not always been like this for
Ngema and his family but, with time, they managed to improve their living standards.
“My wife and I worked hard to ensure our family had the basic necessities. When I bought this house it had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and lounge, but I had to extend it by adding another bedroom and a dining room. I then added two more rooms outside so that my children could live comfortably,” he says.
His eldest is studying at the University of Johannesburg, another is at Boston College, and the others attend high school in Soweto.