Light at the end of the tunnel for blind man

PHIRI CAWE

A visually impaired man from Khayelitsha, George Saliti, who has lived in a shack for years, could not contain his joy when he was told he would be moving to a formal house in Delft during a visit by Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela on Sunday, May 15.

He was even happier when he moved into his new home only three days later, on Wednesday May 18.

Mr Madikizela said Mr Saliti’s windfall was in line with the provincial government’s existing programme to assist the destitute, particularly senior citizens. He said the programme’s strategic goal was to prioritise vulnerable and deserving individuals like Mr Saliti. The programme also prioritised elderly people and child-headed homes.

“I am happy and disappointed at the same time. I am happy that we are addressing this case, but disappointed that this should have been addressed by the local councillors long ago.

“Ward councillors should prioritise people like Mr Saliti. I have said on many occasions that we cannot be giving houses to people who do not deserve them. As a department, we will continue to urge people to bring forward people who deserve to get houses,” he said.

Mr Madikizela called on councillors to speak up for needy families.

“We cannot build houses for young people who do not really need them. That has to come to an end. Ward councillors should bring cases such as Mr Saliti’s forward,” he said.

Mr Saliti’s livelihood is entirely dependent on hand-outs and the busking he does at malls.

He was born with perfect eye sight, but went blind at the age of three. However, he managed to learn to play the accordion while he was still a young boy living in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape.

He said learning the news of his new house made him feel like a child.

“I will make a proper thank you when I am in the house. There has been many promises and I have been thanking all those who came here with nice promises. I am running out of the thank-you’s,” he said.

He said thanks to the gift of a new home his dignity had been restored. “My dream is true now. I have seen and heard people talking about a house while I was talking about my shack.

“We will speak one language now. I have been living in this shack from 2001. I see a light now,” he said.