The hope of owning a house seems to be a far-fetched dream for a Philippi pensioner Thenjiwe Maggie Sipondo.
The 63-year-old mother of three applied for a housing subsidy nearly three decades ago. When she received a letter stating that she was among the people who qualify for the government housing subsidy, she was over the moon.
Ms Sipondo told Vukani that she lived in Khayelitsha in Makhaya, when she applied for the housing subsidy, and for years she lived with the hope that one day she would receive a house.
She said in 2014, she decided to apply again for a housing subsidy, but said she was shocked and sad when she discovered that a house that was meant to be given to her, had been given to someone else.
Ms Sipondo said the officials at the Department of Human Settlement had told her that she was not eligible to apply for another housing subsidy, and that her joy and hope of a better life was short-lived.
She said since 2014 she has been knocking on different doors, with the hope that she would get assistance and get her house back.
But from 2010 until now, she has been told the same thing: that she must wait until such time there is a new housing project in Makhaya.
Ms Sipondo said she no longer has her place, and she has been forced to squat with family and relatives. She said she used to live with her relatives in Khayelitsha, but because they had differences, she decided to move out.
Ms Sipondo currently lives with her son and his children, and they share a tiny two-room shack.
She said her life has turned out to be miserable and difficult, and she no longer has joy.
She said her health has also taken a massive knock, because every time she thinks about this, she silently weeps.
She said at her age she should not be in a position where she does not have a place to call home, and solely dependent on the help of others. She tried to rent a place, but she was unable to afford it, as she was dependent on her social pension grant, adding that she sells sweets and does sewing in an effort to supplement her little income.
She said she fears that she would die without having a place to call her home. “I just want my house.
“How does the government give away my house? Whoever they gave my house to, I need it.
“Where must I live now? I can’t live like this. My life is horrible.
“I now sleep on the floor because there is no space here,” she said.
Department of Human Settlements spokeperson, Muneera Allie, confirmed that the department was aware of Ms Sipondo’s matter.
Ms Allie explained that Ms Sipondo received government housing assistance in 1992, but that she, however, did not take occupation of the land at Mandela Park (ie. Erf 43308).
She claims that the department advised Ms Sipondo to contact the City of Cape Town to deregister her property in Mandela Park, and once that had happened, she could apply for a different subsidy.
“The Department cannot allocate one housing opportunity to two different beneficiaries.
“There are instances where, for various reasons, people do not take up on the opportunity when it becomes available, and then expect to be assisted again by government when their living arrangements change at a later point.
“In Ms Sipondo’s case, she was allocated a plot in Mandela Park, and for reasons unknown to the department, she never took ownership.
“These types of cases disrupt government’s allocation process, with many unoccupied plots then being prone to vandalism and illegal occupation. Government then has to spend additional funds and embark on processes to evict illegal occupiers and reallocate housing opportunities,” said Ms Allie.