Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu says women and children should be accorded preferential treatment when it comes to allocation of housing and access to water.

Sisulu handed over a consignment of water tanks and temporary mobile show houses to scores of Mamelodi hostel residents in the east of Pretoria.

The donation is a joint venture with the Danish government, other government departments, City of Tshwane and Rand Water.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the R64 million temporary housing structures will go a long way to improve the lives of hostel residents. A total of thousand units will be built over a period of two months of the first phase. Ten-thousand hostel residents stand to benefit.

Sisulu says they’re working on a permanent solution.

“We prioritise women because of the children whenever we build and we want to make sure that our children are looked after, they grow up in secured places and secure a better future for our children.”

Danish ambassador to South Africa, Tobias Rehfeld says they’ve always had a good standing relationship with South Africa, including in the water sector, hence they’ve deemed it necessary to make a contribution of this magnitude.

“As part of that program we have supplied a number of water tanks and with the help of one of the companies, we also donated a number of masks. In total 450 000 masks and PPEs have been donated to the department of health, transportation and so on. So it’s part of a bigger reach out program.”

The attempt is also intended at minimising the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring hygienic lifestyle as well as encouraging social distancing among hostel residents.

60-year-old Lesiba Tjale, who has been a resident of the Mamelodi Hostel for over 30-years, says “Up to so far I’m happy. The state is intervening, but they must not keep on saying it’s temporary. These residents are not born temporarily in this world. They must build permanent structures whereby each and every citizen will be placed,” says Tjale.

Shafik Amirmeer from the Human Rights Commission says the plight of hostel residents had been ignored for many years. He called on the government to speedily provide a lasting solution.

“It’s disgrace, we’ve been raising this issue for many years even in parliament in 2015. The problem is they do not implement recommendations. So now we are saying we have spoken on all these social ills in this country and no longer going to call on the commission of inquiries but we are going to work on time frames and when are you going to implement. We are gonna take you to that level,” says Amirmeer.

The minister says they’re working with the mining companies to prioritise the refurbishment of hostels as the living conditions in most of them are appalling.

In Mamelodi the hostel’s ablution facilities are dysfunctional, the buildings are dilapidated while residents are sharing small rooms in large numbers.