Woman’s 13-year battle for her RDP house

This is the three-room shack which Cecilia Shabalala shares with her three children.

When Cecilia Shabalala, of Siyahlala informal settlement, in Philippi, received a letter from the City of Cape Town in 2004, stating that her housing subsidy had been approved, she breathed a sigh of relief and was over the moon.

She was looking forward to living in a decent house for the first time in her life and to having a place her three children could call home. But that dream was quickly shattered when she discovered that her house had been given to someone else.

Ms Shabalala has been living in Siyahlala for more than 15 years and claimed she was among a group of people who were supposed to be moved to Brown’s Farm, in 2010, after new houses were built.

However, she was shocked to find foreigners staying in the house when she needed to move in.

Ms Shabalala , who went to the house with City officials, said the occupants informed them that the owner was in the Eastern Cape, but gave Ms Shabalala and the officials, the owners’ contact details.

Ms Shabalala said the officials phoned the owner on the spot to sort out the problem, but to date it has remained unresolved.

She claimed the officials promised to get her an alternative house in Delft, but that never materialised. Battling to control her emotions, Ms Shabalala said she tried to register for a housing subsidy again, but was told she already owned a house. With the hope getting the matter resolved, she said, she then approached Legal Aid, pleading with their lawyers to look into her matter.

Despite her having followed up with them on a number of occasions, she said, there has been no progress.

As a last resort, she turned to the media.“This has traumatised me to such to an extent that this is all I ever think about these days.People that were neighbourhours back then are now living in their houses and others who registered for a housing subsidy after her have received their houses. What must I do to get my house back?” she asked.

Nathan Adriaanse, spokeperson for the provincial department of Human Settlements, confirmed that Ms Shabalala was an approved beneficiary of the Philippi Browns Farm project. However, he said, the City of Cape Town is responsible for this project.

“We therefore propose you request project specific details, and the status of delivery to Ms Shabalala, from the City,” he said.

Vukani’s attempts to get comment from the City were unsuccessfuly.