Hope falling into ruin

The buildings are in ill repair.
The buildings are in ill repair.

The Galeshewe Association for the Care of the Aged and Disabled (Gaasca) is being haunted by the possibility of closure.

It is struggling to make ends meet since its main funder pulled out due to economical conditions in 2017.

The association’s centre, which houses 36 elderly people, has been on the verge of closing down and would have been forced to do so, was it not for intervention by the Northern Cape Department of Social Development.

Situated at the Galeshewe hostel buildings, Gaasca’s centre only has ownership of the community hall, which is the only manner in which it can raise funds to sustain itself.

The centre’s board has revealed how it desperately needs intervention by the Sol Plaatje Municipality to hand over the whole premises to be run by the board.

Through the issuing of the title deed, the board will utilise the premises accordingly for sustainability, it states.

A section of the rental rooms has been damaged and vandalised and has not been maintained or renovated by the municipality in years.

According to Kenneth Hlakudi, Gaasca chairperson, the premises has extreme potential, but their hands are tied.

“We are faced with drastic challenges due to the economic situation, and we have therefore approached the municipality (through writing letters), but we are not winning,” says Hlakudi.

“Our hands are tied, as we wish to use these empty rooms to accommodate more elders and open a crèche.

“The problem is that we have secured sponsors and funders, who offered to help us renovate the rooms for utilisation, but they pulled out due to the premises not belonging to us. It does make sense. Who wants to renovate premises for the municipality?”

During Express Northern Cape’s tour of the dilapidated section, it was established that the rooms could accommodate up to eight people, as well as provide space for a crèche.

Irene Njovu, coordinator at Gaasca, said the rooms could address the need of some of the 20 elderly people on the waiting list.

“There is dire need for (helping) the elderly people, who are vulnerable at home,” said Njovu.

The situation is expected to get worse, as the centre complains about what is regarded as subsidised municipal rates.

“The tariffs are too high. We all, including the staff, have to hussle to survive and feed the residents. There are months when we cannot even affort to pay stipends, or have to donate it ourselves,” said Hlakudi.

“In September, we were in the red and about to shut down. But through God’s grace a good Sama­ritan saved the situation.”

The housing has become a comfortable home for many elders and trees have been planted on the premises.

There is also a vegetable garden, but Njovu said they were struggling to maintain it, due to a lack of funds.

Sello Matsie, municipal spokesperson, has denied knowledge of any application and communication by Gaasca to the municipality. He clarified that the municipality was not at liberty to issue title deeds, which is a task performed by the Deeds Office.

Matsie added that the municipality only dealt with clearance certificates if a party was interersted in buying land.

“They must approach whoever they made a deal with in terms of leasing the land to release it to them,” Matsie stated.

Admitting the land did indeed belong to the municipality, he said “they must note that the land was divided into certain portions, where houses were also built for private ownership.”

Our hands are tied, as we wish to use these empty rooms to accommodate more elders and open a crèche. – Kenneth Hlakudi

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