Overcrowding forces people to have sex in field
HAVING sex in an open field or the staircase of a building is not a way for some people in KwaZulu-Natal to spice up their love lives, but a necessity borne out of overcrowded living space.
Residents of the mostly coloured community of Mariannridge outside Pinetown claim their council-owned flats are so overcrowded that when they start to feel frisky they head out into the veld.
Some have even bought mattresses for their nightly sojourns, to avoid being pinched or nicked by spiky shrubs.
When 28-year-old Jeanine Stanley wants to be alone with her fiancé, the veld is the place to be.
"Having sex in the field is the life for many people here. You have to choose your spot first. People have sex everywhere, but not in the flats because there are children," she said.
Like most residents in the area, Stanley's family has been sharing an overcrowded flat since 2001.
"About 11 people stay in my family flat. I cannot have sex in front of my mother and children. When I turn, my hand touches my mother's bed. So every time when I need privacy with my fiancé the open field becomes our first choice," she said.
Most couples share the same houses as their in-laws, with some families sharing their two-bedroom flats with up to 17 people.
When a couple feels the urge, they pick up their mattress - which they leave outside the flats during the day as there is no space for them inside - and venture into the field.
The next hurdle is to "pick a spot" to be alone in the field.
But, while the people of Marrianridge - who were moved there in 1976 through the apartheid government's Group Areas Act - feel there is nothing wrong with having sex in the field, they feel the problem could be solved if the government gave them RDP houses.
For the past three weeks the community has protested violently against service delivery backlogs by blockading roads with burning tyres, shattered glass and bricks, and uprooted street signs.
"Having sex in the open field can only be avoided when people get houses," Stanley said.
The two-bedroom flat she shares with her mother Denise Calloway and family is also badly maintained with most of the doors broken.
Community leader Brain Charles said the community was squashed into about 80 units of flats. When the area was initially established, it contained about 600 units.
"About 11 to 17 people are accommodated in one unit and there are same detached houses [Wendy houses] too," he said.
Charles added that most teenage pregnancies in the area also happened in the open fields.
Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said the issue of overcrowding in the flats was being addressed.
"Three sites for new housing projects have been identified," he said.
"And the next step is to advertise for people to do feasibility studies. A housing project normally takes up to three years, but the municipality and provincial government have agreed to expedite the process without bypassing other steps. The housing project will accommodate about 500 families."
Mofokeng said human settlements MEC Ravi Pillay had also informed the community that a budget had been set aside to renovate flats.
"The work to deal with the issues of Mariannridge has already been started but there was no proper communication with the community," he said. "There is [now] a 15-member team involving the community, officials from provincial government and the city nominated to work on the project."