Family of 13 living in a shack have 'tried everything' but 'there are just no jobs'

Robin Kooseelal lives in a dilapidated shack with 12 other family members in Redcliffe, Verulam, which is north of Durban.
Robin Kooseelal lives in a dilapidated shack with 12 other family members in Redcliffe, Verulam, which is north of Durban.
Photo: Nokulunga Majola/GroundUp
  • Three generations of the Kooseelal family live in a three-room shack in Verulam, north of Durban.
  • The family burns firewood, which they fetch from a nearby forest, to cook and boil water.
  • The head of the family, 65-year-old Robin Kooseelal, and his son say they have tried everything to find jobs, to no avail.

Robin Kooseelal is 65-years-old and has lived in Redcliffe, Verulam, north of Durban, for more than 20 years.

Kooseelal lives in a three-room shack with 12 other relatives - the youngest, his one-month-old grandchild. His wife Anita, 53, has been in and out of hospital for several years, GroundUp reported.

Their home is weathered and riddled with holes and broken windows. Often during heavy downpours, the family seeks shelter with neighbours or they sleep in an old car in the yard.

"I came here 22 years ago from Giyani. We struggle with everything from water to electricity. We use firewood which we fetch from a forest about two kilometres away to cook or boil water," said Kooseelal.

He said the family also used a pit toilet next to the shack.

Kooseelal said he tried "everything to find a job" but to no avail. He currently fixes cars in his yard with his son, but they mostly rely on social grants to buy food and other necessities.

"My children are all unemployed and they all depend on this grant and the little I make from fixing people's cars. A week often goes by without making anything. We are tired of living like this," said Kooseelal.

READ | SA loses 3 000 jobs in first quarter of 2020, but impact of lockdown not felt yet

His son Keran, 34, said he had been looking for a job without any prospects so far.

"It's not like we have not been trying. There are just no jobs," says Keran.

"We are overcrowded in this house, chances are if any of us gets [Covid-19] we are all at risk of getting infected."

Ward 59 councillor Chris Langa said he was aware of the Kooseelal family's plight.

"I have known the family for a very long time. I am trying my best to get them a house or a decent place to live in. Their living situation is really worrying especially since they have small children in the house."

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