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Retired into squalor

MARIA Mchunu spent most of her life contentedly cleaning up other people's homes, making sure everything was neat and tidy to create a comfortable, cosy environment where a family could relax and unwind after a busy day.

MARIA Mchunu spent most of her life contentedly cleaning up other people’s homes, making sure everything was neat and tidy to create a comfortable, cosy environment where a family could relax and unwind after a busy day.

At 86-years-old, her working days are well behind her, and she spends her retirement alone in a small, poorly constructed mud house in Mondlo, that doesn’t stand a chance against the elements.

Even though she has tried to stuff bits of rolled up cloth, sticks and stones into the gaping holes in her walls and roof, she still has to stand motionless in a corner of her house if she is to avoid getting soaked when it rains. Each rainy or windy day creates new cracks that she must patch up.

All around her, in the informal settlement in which she has lived most of her life, Maria’s neighbours have been fortunate enough to have had RDP houses built for them. Maria’s says that her application for an RDP house, however, was not approved, and she has no idea why.

 

maria2ANC councillor, Bheka Mtshali, confirmed that roughly 1 000 RDP houses had been built in the area.
“I came across Maria, when, Lungelo Xulu, who is the ANC ward candidate for the area, and I were doing door-to-door campaigns in the area and, at first, I didn’t believe that there could be anyone living in such squalor,” said Cllr Mtshali. “This benefit (RDP houses) are supposed to be for those who need it the most. It makes me angry that some people, who don’t even need it, are being given RDP houses, yet this poor old lady must wait.”

Cllr Mtshali claimed that the reason someone like Maria was overlooked when RDP houses were being built, has to do with the fact that the project was politicised. “I believe that this is a reflection of the abuse of political power and a demonstration of a lack of leadership. This is an act of a heartless person. If a person is this destitute, how do you push them aside?”

“We have tried to engage the relevant stakeholders in the area but to no avail. We are now hoping for intervention from another level of government,” said Mr Xulu.

Director of Development and Planning, Dalisu Zulu, explained that the RDP housing projects were run by a Project Steering Committee comprised of members of the community, and was overseen by the national Department of

Human Settlements. “There must be a reason for what happened, but we will have to gather some information to find out what transpired,” he said.
Residents who wish to help make life more comfortable for Maria with donations of cash or kind can contact Lungelo Xulu on 078 164 4362.

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