News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday June 26th 2019

Domestic workers disillusioned as housing department stalls their dreams of a home

Brenda Nkuna

housesaving.jpgNot content with waiting for RDP houses, about 100 domestic workers living in Cape Town’s southern suburbs spent 10 years saving up in order to built themselves houses under the People’s Housing Process (PHP).

The PHP, touted as a self-help housing solution by government, allows people to group together and add to the government housing subsidy in order to build their own homes.

But now they fear the dream of owning their own homes is are vanishing due to housing department delays.

The disillusioned domestic workers from Claremont, Rondebosch, Kenilworth, Constantia and Wynberg said the department had promised that a project manager would be appointed after the April general elections and they would be able to start building their houses on land identified in Pelican Park.

But they say nothing has happened for the last three months and in the meantime they continue to pay high rentals for small servants quarters in the backyard of private houses or flatblocks.

Sikelwa Mbenjeni, who works in Kenilworth, said the women were “fed-up with being underestimated” by the department.

Mbenjeni who is also chairperson of the project, said on June 12 she had handed a letter to the housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela noting the group’s concerns over delays.

But instead of getting a “constructive” reply from the department, she said she was posted a copy of a response written by former housing MEC Richard Dyantyi to an enquiry she made in 2007.

She said the group then met with human settlements deputy director Anwar Swartz on June 28.

Swartz apologized for the error but failed to detail a solution to their problem.

She said she was worried that the group, having saved together for over a decade, would now “lose hope and divide”, and if that happened the housing department would take the land earmarked for them.

“They can’t bring elections as an excuse. They want to rob us,” she said.

Eunice Nguxe of Kenilworth said she was worried she would soon end up on the street if the go-ahead was not given soon, because her employer was moving elsewhere and she would be forced to leave the quarters she rented in their backyard for R1000 per month.

Nguxe said she wanted to built her own home so she could bring her grandchildren to live with her.

She said she could not qualify for an RDP house because she did not live in the township.

“I wanted to do something for myself, but it looks like I will end up under the bridge.”

Ellen Noch, who rented a room in Plumstead, said she was battling to afford rent as she only had part-time jobs.

Noch said she had spent over R3000 in the hope of owning her house, but was now worried, as the “dream seems to blur”.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sue van der Merwe, who has assisting the women with their project, said she would meet with housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela to try get clarity over the reason for the dealys.

Van der Merwe said she did not fully understand why a project manager had not yet been appointed.

“This is a group of amazing women. Ultimately we need to get a positive report,” she said.

The housing department was unable to respond to questions posed on Friday. — West Cape News

Tags: php pelicanpark

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