At last – an end to sleep­ing in the rough

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - LEILA SAMODIEN

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.”

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

OFF THE STREET: Ron­nie Petersen has fi­nally re­ceived a house af­ter 33 years on the street.

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