Many families in rural areas are still without proper housing 27 years into democracy. In places like Taung in the North West and Kuruman in the Northern Cape, people still live in mud houses.
Recent heavy rains have put the spotlight on the plight of these communities and the dangers they face living in these structures.
The houses are made from cow dung mixed with red or white clay. Many have been living in such structures since they were born.
A 35-year-old mother of five, Masego Motlhankanyane, inherited this dilapidated home from her parents. She now fears the worst for her children who are forced to live in a house that leaks.
“This house would be ok if I had fixed it, especially in the bedroom. I would not be waking up in the middle of the night because of the rain,” says Motlhankanyane.
Kedilatile Sekwe has been living in a mud house for more than 40 years. The house accommodates 18 family members with little personal space.
“We are cramped in that small space. We all sleep in this house. It’s really cramped. There is no space for all of us. It is not good for us,” says Sekwe.
Efforts by government
Despite efforts by the government to provide housing for the poor, there are still serious challenges.
Political analyst Dr Sethulego Matebesi says the housing structure is a serious problem.
“If you look at housing structure, it is a definite serious problem and it’s a huge concern because we all know that each year, municipalities and even the provincial government do get an allocation for building houses. The question is that even if you look at the manifesto of the ruling party you will always see that there are promises of building house for these rural areas.”
In a few months’ time, these rural communities will be casting their votes in the local government elections with the hope that this time things will change.
The Northern Cape Department of Human Settlements could not be reached for comment.