Sowetan

Families fear for sinking homes

COUNTLESS ‘FIXES’ CAN’T SOLVE MESS OFFICIAL PROMISES TO FIND RELIEF

- Thulani Mbele

TWO families have been living in houses with damp walls for nearly to 30 years and fearing that one day they will be crushed in their sleep.

The paint is falling off the walls of the Maphumulo and Nkosi homes in Zone 6, Sebokeng, in the Vaal, and the foundation­s are waterlogge­d.

The families said they have lived on the banks of a small river in the township since 1968. This was after they moved from De Deur and Evaton, respective­ly.

Their buildings were fine, without any damp walls and leaking sewerage pipes around their yards.

The houses were owned by the apartheid government at the time and the families paid rent until 1984. In 1986 the township became bigger as more houses were built and the two believe that was the beginning of their problems.

“When more houses were built, the government did not build a proper drainage system for both sewerage and rain, and the new houses blocked the natural flow of the rain water into the river and therefore the water flowed towards our houses,” Papi Maphumulo said.

Maphumulo, 54, said the damp began around 1988. He lives with his partner Kenny Dlamini and their 24-year-old son Maxwell, whom they believed have lung problems because of the wet walls. The house is also sandwiched between two leaking sewer manholes.

Maphumulo said he was tired of reporting the sewerage problem to the municipali­ty. “I have reported the leaking sewerage to the Emfuleni municipali­ty countless times; they come and fix it and several days later it starts again,” he said.

As you walk into the Maphumulo house, the stench of water mixed with sewerage greets you.

The floor is sinking under the damp ground and one has to tiptoe around the house to avoid falling through the wooden floor. Half of the floor in one of the bedrooms has collapsed and the wardrobe and table are kept afloat by planks and bricks.

The unemployed father of three said he survives on part-time jobs and cannot afford to buy another house or move on elsewhere.

Dlamini said she applied for an RDP house in 1998, 2000 and again in 2010 and still waiting.

“This house will fall and we will die in here because it seems like no one cares about us,” she said.

Their neighbour, 65-year-old Emma Nkosi who lives with her husband, 12 children and grandchild­ren, said during the drought last year, when everyone was praying for rain, they were praying for it not to rain.

Nkosi said when her son died last year the coffin had to be carried for more than 100 metres through a flood to a hearse waiting on the main road.

“When it rains we have to carry the children on our backs to get through the flooded yard.” EMFULENI local municipali­ty MMC for human settlement­s Sello Pitso said they viewed the matter of these two houses in a serious light.

“This is another case of inheritanc­e of apartheid infrastruc­ture where the National Party government would just build houses for our people without considerin­g the geo-technical conditions of the land,” he said.

However, he said these were private properties which meant it would be difficult for the municipali­ty to spend money on them because of the stipulatio­ns of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

“But as a caring government we can’t just leave our people to live under such unacceptab­le conditions,” Pitso said.

“The matter will be raised with the mayor to find a lasting solution to this impasse,” he said.

Pitso said he would be meeting the Gauteng MEC for human settlement­s today and they would get building inspectors to report on the situation and chart a way forward.

On RDP house applicatio­ns that were not successful, Pitso said he would request the families to come to his office on Tuesday “so that we can ask the Gauteng department of human settlement­s to check them in their Demand Database”.

“We can then, based on the outcomes of the search, decide which steps to take.

“We are terribly sorry for this sad state of affairs and we will do everything in our power to find a solution to this, and undo the wrongs of the apartheid government. ”–

 ?? PHOTOS: THULANI MBELE ?? WATER EVERYWHERE: Children cross a makeshift bridge of planks over a permanent pool of water on the only path to the Nkosi house
PHOTOS: THULANI MBELE WATER EVERYWHERE: Children cross a makeshift bridge of planks over a permanent pool of water on the only path to the Nkosi house
 ??  ?? MISERABLE: Emma Nkosi, 65, says the walls in her house being destroyed by the damp and says she has developed arthritis because of the moist environmen­t they live in
MISERABLE: Emma Nkosi, 65, says the walls in her house being destroyed by the damp and says she has developed arthritis because of the moist environmen­t they live in

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