Over a hundred shack dwellers in extension 6 informal settlement are in solicitude over the dreary state of their living conditions. Despite many saying they bought the land from certain unnamed individuals they have had to live with no toilets and electricity since 2007. The living conditions are highly poor and pose a high health risk. Residents are slowly losing hope of being allocated RDP houses.
“Its hard enough that we are unsafe during this time of the COVID-19. It’s even worse that we have to endure every icy cold winter in these already cold shacks,” says Gloria Twala a resident.
Twala and her husband say they bought the residential stand for R2000 in 2013. To their surprise other people came to the same spot claiming to have bought the sam land. Now seven families live on a small piece of land with no room to build a fence or a pit toilet for themselves. People spill urine in a nearby bush and some relieve themselves there. Everyday people endure an unpleasant smell coming from the bush.
“We’ve had to live like this for years and there is nowhere else to run too,” says Twala. She dreams of having a home of her own one day where she can live under better conditions.
Danisisle Mapupa says she and her family have lived a nomadic life living from one informal settlement to the next over the past few years. She has not had a stable place to live. She and her family were chased away from another informal settlement where they had built a shack because of an ownership feud in 2009. Another family which claimed to be the rightful owners of the land accused her and her husband of buying land illegally. They fought amongst each other until police intervened in the matter. After being chased away they endured sleeping outside during winter for days until they managed to buy the land they are currently living on for R800.
She and others are receiving threats that they build shacks in a wrong place and should move from the area.
“I can’t imagine sleeping outside with my children in this cold winter, if we leave, we do not have any other place to go,” says Mapupa. She and her family live in a small shack on a small piece of land.
“Everyday, we pray that we do not get moved from this land, it is all we have.”
Also being threatened to move off her land is Thembi Madlame. She and her husband cleared a piece of land in the informal settlement five years ago. They built a shack and have been living there ever since. They say a man has been threatening to kill them if they do not move off the land. They have resisted as they have no other place to live. She and her husband face many hardships as they are unemployed. Their shack floods with water when it rains and their roof leaks. But the shack is all they have.
“This is the only home we have known for the past five years, if we move where will we go?” They rented in many places using their child’s grant money. When the found the land they are currently living on life became better until they started receiving threats. They plan to resist and fight for their home.
“Living in the informal settlement is hard, but we are only happy to have a place to live,” says Madlame.