At last – an end to sleeping in the rough
RONNIE Petersen can barely remember the last time he had a home. That was 33 years ago, just before he first started living on the street.
Now, as he sleeps under a roof of his own, he knows it is far from perfect – there’s no running water yet, the electricity box has been damaged, so they have no power – but this is his new home.
After 33 years on the waiting list, Petersen finally got his new house in Coriander Road, Kewtown, a few weeks ago. He’s just moved in with his partner, Helga Thomas, with whom he has a four-yearold child, Jordan.
Petersen, 58, is honest about how he landed on the streets. He said he was a naughty child, who was constantly getting in trouble.
His father died when he was a child, his mother a few years later. When he was a young adult, he left home to live on the streets.
Over the years he’s developed arthritis, gout and high blood pressure.
“I was in and out of prison. I stole, I robbed, I broke into houses. I slept anywhere there was a space on the ground,” said Petersen. “But I’m old now; I’m tired.”
He said a house put a roof not only over their heads, but also his other children. Petersen has four other children, the youngest in Grade 10, whom he rarely sees. Thomas also has two young daughters.
When Petersen first got to the house, he was disap- pointed. After the long wait, he’d expected more: proper workmanship, running water and electricity.
However, he said he was battling with the City of Cape Town to get it sorted out.
“I’m still happy. When winter comes, I know I don’t have to sleep in the street.”
OFF THE STREET: Ronnie Petersen has finally received a house after 33 years on the street.