Homevale residents in Kimberley say they are living in fear that their dilapidated houses that were built in the early ’90s will collapse on them. The residents accuse the contractor, who built over 200 houses, of shoddy work.

According to the provincial Corporative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Department (COGHSTA) there are about 14 000 houses that need fixing in the Northern Cape.

The Homevale houses are full of deep cracks all over the walls and are in a state of near-collapse. One of the residents, Vivian Van Der Merwe, who has been staying in her house for more than 10 years, says she could no longer live there. She says she was forced to accept their local councillor’s offer to build her a temporary shack to stay in while waiting for the municipality to fix her house.

“It was really, really an embarrassment for me to be in this house. They renovated those houses but they didn’t do this one and this one was looking the very same. And that is the reason why I went to the council and he said to me okay I will do something for you will you be okay with a shanty? I said better a shanty than living in this house.”

A community activist, Adam Sulliman, who stays in another area not far from Homevale, has been trying to help residents by bringing the matter to the attention of the provincial government.

“I wrote a letter to the premier he answered me back and the premier said, well according to his letter, he’s gonna refer the letters to the municipality and COGHSTA, that was last year. COGHSTA didn’t answer me back as well as the municipality.”

Meanwhile, Spokesperson for the provincial Corporate Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Department Xhanti Teki says they have been engaging with Sol Plaatje Municipality to apply for emergency funding to fast-track the rebuilding of the houses in Homevale.

“The reality of the matter is that in the province we are sitting with 14 000 houses that need remedial work. And for us to do remedial work we need the ministerial approval. And for that also to happen we use a certain portion of our budget which is 10%. Currently, for this financial year, we rectifying two places which are Lerato Park and Rietfonteint but safe to say that we are aware of the situation that is happening in Homevale. It is on that context that we’ve engaged the local municipality which is Sol Plaatje to apply for emergency funding so that we can fast track the issue of dignifying our people.”

COGHSTA says the matter is receiving attention and the plan to fix the houses is awaiting ministerial approval.