A wheelchair bound Ntombi zanele Fika, 52, who shares her dilapidated one-roomed shack with six children, including her grandchildren, made an impassioned plea to President Jacob Zuma to build her family a decent house.
This emerged when the president conducted a door to door campaign in Site C informal settlement on Thursday July 21. The president visited the family of Ms Fika and Nosipho Khandise who described their living conditions as inhumane and awful.
They lambasted the sluggish pace of service delivery to poor people and claimed that they felt they had been neglected by the government. They said although the country had obtained its freedom in 1994, they were yet to see the real benefits of freedom and said elected leaders only cared for themselves.
Ms Fika told Vukani she had been living in the area for nearly 20 years but nothing had been done to improve the lives of the people who lived there. She said as a person living with a disability, her challenges were endless and that she slept with one eye open, for fear of not being able to grab her belongings quickly enough in case of a fire.
She described the recent heavy rains that have battered the province as a harsh reminder of the appalling conditions they live in.
The shack which she lives in is riddled with holes, and the area infested by rats which often bit them while they were sleeping or ate their groceries.
She also complained about the refuse bags which were not collected and said at times maggots from rotting dirt crawled into their homes.
The only source of income her family had, she said, was her disability grant and that her childen and grandchildren did any kind of work they could find, to earn a bit of money. “We cook, bathe and sleep in this one-room shack. I mean, we basically do everything in this one room shack because we don’t have money to extend it – forget even buying a proper house. Moving around the house is a nightmare for me because we don’t have space.
“I hope the visit by the president will speed up service delivery and hopefully bring the much needed change in our lives, “ she said.
Ms Khandise, 43, said she was grateful that the president had visited her house as she got an opportunity to pour out her heart to the him about the daily challenges the people who live in impoverished communities battled with.
Life took a difficult turn for Ms Khandise in 1993 when her shack caught fire, leaving her upper body scarred with burns. She adds that while she had been recovering at the hospital, she lost her job. Since then, she said, she had never been able to find a stable job. She said a few years back she narrowly escaped death when a car crashed into her house.
“I have lived in the area for over two decades (but) nothing had been to change our lives. I share this three-roomed shack with my other three siblings and none of us is working.
“We are dependent on the social grant I receive for my young child. The president said to me that we need to vote for them so that they can render the service delivery to us as they have no control of this province. I will vote but if they don’t deliver on the promises they made, I will never waste my time voting again,” she said.
Addressing scores of people who attended the rally opposite the Caltex garage in Site C, President Zuma labelled the DA as the baby of the National Party and described black people who vote for the DA as confused people. He said the province was one of the worst provinces in the country in terms of its housing backlog.
“I was in the Philippi area and it pained me to see many black people suffering, but it was worse here in Site C. The area is filthy and rubbish is piling up everywhere, “ he said.