Access to decent housing remains a dream for thousands of poor people in the Eastern Cape. Many people’s names have been on waiting lists for years. Others have not even bothered to apply for housing, despite living in deplorable conditions.
Asive Mpinda was born in a dilapidated house at Lujecweni village in Ngqeleni, 25 years ago. He has since lost both parents and is unemployed.
Mpinda says life has been an uphill struggle since his mother died almost a decade ago.
“My mother in 2013 or 14, I can’t remember very well, she applied for an RDP house but she died without receiving the RDP houses even though the other people did receive the RDP houses. Then in 2017 the ward councillor came to me and told me I’ve been put on the second list and it’s been put on my name, so I should expect a house very soon. But that has not materialised even now.”
Now, Mpinda gets by with the help of others.
“I depend on neighbours to buy food. I depend on the church to buy clothes. To even finish school, I had to depend on donations from the church. I’m not asking for very much. I’m asking for a house. It’ll be easier for me. I can be able to buy myself clothes and food if I have a house. Building a house is gonna cost me too much. It’s expensive. I doubt I can be able to build it anytime soon. So, that’s what I would love from the government.”
Villagers assist where they can.
A member of a local church, Zwelidumile Sitshange, intervened and raised funds for Mpinda’s education.
“I got a report that Sive is one of the students who are struggling for varsity registration. When I looked into the matter, his mother was unemployed. She was still alive at the time. They did not have anything to eat. I told her that as a church we will try to raise money for Sive to go and register. Indeed, we managed to do that.”
Meanwhile, at Mbozisa village in Tabase near Mthatha, Nozimasile Xhentsa lives with her five grandchildren. All of them are undocumented.
“These children depend on me. I send them to school. I buy them food and clothes. I don’t even know where their mothers are. I’m just a poor woman who has to take care of them. We share this bed. All six of us sleep on this bed. They don’t receive child support grant because they have no birth certificates.”
The Department of Human Settlements is aware of the plight of these families.
Spokesperson Yanga Funani says plans are under way to address the situation.
“After the visit, we saw that the family requires urgent intervention. That is why we are in a process of providing them with a temporary structure while we try to find them a long terms solution, which is to build them a house.”
The Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements recently handed over 87 houses to families in rural areas as part of a specialised R15 million housing programme focusing on rural areas. But the department is saddled with a housing backlog of more than 600-thousand units.
Housing Backlog | Thousands in the Eastern Cape still await decent houses