Frac­tured walls and bro­ken dreams in Tza­neen

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­

Parched walls with peel­ing plas­ter swathed in a net­work of deep cracks, hold up the roof – it­self with­out any sign of so­lid­ity. If you thought the cracked walls were the only cause for panic about im­mi­nent dan­ger, wait un­til you lower your eyes and look at the base.

The in­sta­bil­ity goes all the way down to what is sup­posed to sup­port the up­per struc­ture, with un­steady walls rest­ing un­com­fort­ably on the se­verely rugged and eroded house foun­da­tion.

This is what Dina Manyiki (50) calls home. She lives in this house in Mawa Block 9 out­side Tza­neen in Lim­popo with her three school-go­ing grand­chil­dren.

“I barely get sleep in this house and my daily prayer is for no one to be home when it fi­nally gives in and col­lapses,” she says as she heaves a sigh.

The plas­ter­ing at the bot­tom has peeled, ex­pos­ing the red bricks from Manyiki’s gnarled house foun­da­tion to ero­sion. It has rubbed away so badly that it is leav­ing a crag­gily weather-beaten space big enough for an av­er­age-size dog to curl up com­fort­ably in the cool shade un­der the house.

It seems it will be a great risk for any­one to sit in­side and ex­pect it to with­stand even the wind that of­ten blows through the vil­lage. Who could sleep com­fort­ably amid dust waft­ing through the heav­ily frac­tured walls or tiny droplets that find their way through the fis­sures when it rains, I won­der.

“Yet it keeps stand­ing,” Manyiki says, adding that neigh­bours of­ten wor­ry­ingly com­ment that her house is near the brink of col­lapse. Oth­ers have stated, em­phat­i­cally, that she and the kids can’t sleep in it dur­ing heavy rains and rough winds be­cause it has weak­ened and won’t with­stand those con­di­tions.

Manyiki ad­mits that she has, on many oc­ca­sions, wo­ken up her grand­chil­dren in the mid­dle of the night when hear­ing that a storm is on the way. She says they flee their home to seek refuge at a neigh­bour­ing rel­a­tive’s house.

So why is she con­tin­u­ing to risk life and limb by re­turn­ing to her house, I won­dered.

“I sur­vive on my grand­chil­dren’s so­cial grants,” she re­torts. She says she can­not even start think­ing of spar­ing any of that money to­wards build­ing a safer house.

“I would have built my­self a shack by now if I could af­ford it,” she says. She does not blame any­one for her sit­u­a­tion. She used to stay with her older child in Tza­neen, but moved back home when her par­ents died. There was no one liv­ing in the house for some time af­ter their deaths. The fam­ily missed out on an op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for a state-spon­sored, low-in­come house be­cause there was no one to for­mally do so, she ex­plains.

“My only hope is that some [of­fi­cials] will pass by here, see our mis­ery and build us an RDP house,” she laments. Her lo­cal coun­cil­lor, Emelina Ramolefo, says a list of 200 po­ten­tial hous­ing ben­e­fi­cia­ries has al­ready been com­piled by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and prepa­ra­tions are un­der way to build new houses. Un­for­tu­nately, she is not sure if her name is on the list and she ad­mits that she has not submitted any forms for hous­ing.

The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in this im­pov­er­ished vil­lage are de­pen­dent on fire­wood col­lected from the for­est

FALL­ING THROUGH THE CRACKS Dina Manyiki (right) lives in this old, rick­ety house (left) that can col­lapse at any time. She is wait­ing for the gov­ern­ment to build more houses in Mawa Block 9, an im­pov­er­ished vil­lage out­side Tza­neen, Lim­popo

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