Duncan Village residents oust government officials


Watina Betana, 81, has lived in her Section C home in Duncan Village, east London, for over 30 years. Photo: Johnnie Isaac

  • Community members from Section C in Duncan Village chased away the human settlements officials who came to inspect dilapidated homes in the area.
  • The inspection follows questions sent by GroundUp after residents complained of unsuccessful attempts to get the government to help families living in homes built more than three decades ago.
  • One resident explained that he was upset that officials were accompanied by people affiliated with the neighborhood councilor who they said neglected them.

Human settlements officials who came to inspect the dilapidated houses in Section C in Duncan Village, east London, were chased away by residents last week.

The inspection followed after GroundUp sent questions to the provincial ministry following complaints from residents. Residents had tried unsuccessfully to get the government to help families living in dilapidated houses built more than three decades ago.

Most of the tenants are retirees, and over the years the area has become densely populated with cabins. Locals say formal homes have asbestos roofs, are leaking, and some have already partially collapsed with people inside. But what worries them the most are the cabin fires, especially as many people in the area are elderly and would find it difficult to escape a blaze.

But Human Settlements spokesperson Yanga Funani said officials were barred from visiting the homes of two residents in need of urgent assistance by people opposed to neighborhood councilor Clara Yekiso-Morolong.

“Our officials have been prevented from doing their jobs and visiting these families. We are engaging with the Buffalo City Metro to find a way for our managers to meet these families and speed up their transit to the settling sites where they will be waiting for their homes, ”he said.

Meanwhile, Watina Betana, 81, has lived in her Section C home for over 30 years. He said for years that they were ordered not to “alter the structure of the houses” because they had no title to the property. “Over time, we were promised title deeds, but later that changed and we were told that the government wanted to relocate us to RDP houses to make room for a new development,” he said. he declares.

Betana said if he had known the government would not move them, he would have fixed the house’s flaws with his own money.

His neighbor, Nomvulo Dumile, said they were worried about Betana and other elderly residents as cabin fires are common. The cabins built around the houses have burned twice this year already, with the fire in June leading to the death of someone.

Dumile said that although Betana received an old age allowance, he relied on the community to help him with grocery shopping, cooking for him, doing his laundry and other household chores.

When asked why they kicked out the officials, Dumile said the community was upset that the department was accompanied by people affiliated with Councilor Yekiso-Morolong who they said neglected them.

She said they were also opposed to residents like Betana being moved to another site, as it depends on the community for its daily needs. “These people are going to be moved to bungalows. This is not an ideal situation for Betana as he does not know anyone in these bungalows. If the government is not able to fix his house, they have to put him in another house where we can still have access to him to make sure he eats and takes his treatment, ”she said. .

Provincial Social Development spokesman Mzukisi Solani said he would also send social workers to do an assessment of the living conditions of vulnerable people in the area.

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