Fix crumbling homes, protesting residents say

Philippi residents are outraged at the shoddy workmanship and "excessive" bond payments on their new homes.

On Tuesday about 50 residents of Acacia Park in Philippi protested against the poor state of their homes. They say shoddy work has left many houses with cracked walls, leaking roofs and malfunctioning plumbing.

They also said bond payments on the houses were excessive.

The homes were built by the Cape Town Community Housing Company, which is jointly owned by the City of Cape Town and the National Housing Finance Corporation.

A similar protest was held outside the African National Congress Women's League's Women's Day celebration at the Gugulethu Civic Centre, which was addressed by mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo.

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Acacia Park community leader Nomfuzo Tshayiviti said: "We were supposed to pay between R50 and R350 a month, but (the bond) has now been increased to R790,14. Some people have withdrawn because they cannot afford it. These are not the houses that we were promised in workshops. We have been raising these concerns for five years and the mayor only came here last Wednesday."

Tshayiviti said kitchen sinks bubbled with cistern water when toilets were flushed. It is understood that similar problems are experienced in the housing schemes developed by the company in areas like Mitchell's Plain, Hanover Park, Heideveld, Luyoloville and Gugulethu.

But company managing director Mervyn Bergman said ongoing maintenance had been carried out in the past five years to fix leaking roofs, cracking walls and other structural problems.

Bergman denied the claim that residents were meant to pay only up to R350 a month and said they had been told this amount would be gradually increased over time.

While the residents protested in the streets, Lenna Booysen, 46, who is blind after being assaulted by a boyfriend more than 10 years ago in a jealous rage, sat and brooded in her humble home.

Her blindness has robbed her of a job to pay off her unfinished house and she survives on her state disability grant.

Booysen has to pay a bond of R250 every month from her grant of R780, but she said the company had initially told her she would pay only R50 a month.

She has no electricity and no ceiling and the floors are neither carpeted nor tiled.

Sand has filtered through the roof tiles, putting pressure on the plastic covering underneath, meaning that "it could collapse at any time", she says.

While she said she was happy to celebrate Women's Day on Tuesday, she appealed to the company to finish her Acacia Park house.

"It is very cold here in this house and I get very sick. The wind comes in the ceiling. I feel a lot of sand falling into the house. I would like to have my house finished."

Booysen now uses candles for light and a gas cooker for heating the house.

Neighbours and friends often have to check up on her to ensure her safety because of the high crime rate in the area and because she has already been burgled.

Her neighbour Caroline Fortuin said: "What hurts me the most is that she uses a flame and candles in her house even though she stays alone. She can burn (down) the house and hurt herself." - Staff Reporter.

  • This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Argus on August 10, 2005
Article by: Bulelani Phillip