Prioritise the disabled

Intsebenziswano Housing Project member, Faith Mamputa, addresses seniors and disabled people at the Human Settlements office in Cape Town.

People with disabilities and senior citizens say housing for them has to be prioritised.

Led by Intsebenziswano Housing Project, the elders and people with disabilities forcefully occupied the Human Settlements office in Cape Town on Friday March 1, to raise awareness of their plight before handing over a memorandum to be presented to the MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizela.

The protesters, some in wheelchairs, went to the offices unannounced.

Tensions ran high when the staff at the office refused the protesters entry, saying the march was not approved.

Nandipha Mxobo, an executive member for the project, said most seniors and disabled people struggle to get houses and yet young people are getting them. She said they decided to occupy the offices after being ignored by the MEC and his assistant.

She said they have written letters alerting the MEC of the plight of seniors and the disabled.

“We have held meetings with government officials, including the then Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille regarding the plight of elderly and disabled people. But MEC Madikizela together with his assistant have been ignoring our correspondence. We could not entertain such ill-treatment of our seniors. That is why we occupied the Human Settlements offices.”

Ms Mxobo urged the MEC to fast-track housing delivery for seniors and disabled people.

She said there are close to 500 unoccupied houses in Eersterivier that can be distributed to these people.

“We are tired of empty promises by politicians. We demand houses to be issued to these people. We are aware that there are empty and vacant houses in Eersterivier, give them to the needy,” she said

She threatened that if the department or the MEC does not respond with an appropriate response before March 30, “we might do something that people are not expecting. We are doing this in a peaceful way and we do not want to embark on bad activities.”

Part of the grievances in the memorandum handed over to the MEC’s office are that seniors and disabled people should be provided with decent houses, that the MEC visit their areas and that empty houses are given to them.

Thozi Mciki, manager at Vuk’uhambe Self Help Association, said as an organisation that deals with people with disabilities they are also concerned about housing delivery.

He said at some point they had a presentation from government officials about housing and were promised that they will be a priority when it comes to housing delivery.

“We have a big concern when it comes to houses. There is no delivery at all. We see houses built but we do not know where they go. We are not considered at all. We should be first on the list and not have to queue like others. In fact that’s what the officials told us. But what you see now is young people getting houses even before their parents,” he said.

He said the protest was not led by them, but by people who see a need to fight for the disabled and elderly.

Vukani asked the Department of Human Settlements for a response but they did not reply by the time of going to print.