Sat Oct 22 00:01:42 SAST 2016

Another baby born in a dirty and leaking tent

By unknown | Dec 06, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

On Monday morning, Hawukile Jali gave birth in a dirty and leaking tent at the Joyce Road informal settlement near Newlands in Durban.

She was forced to have her baby in the tent because the eThekwini municipality allegedly failed to honour its promise to provide shack dwellers with temporary shelter.

The 20-something mother was assisted in the birth by other young mothers.

The ambulance arrived hours after the baby was born.

Jali was transported to a local hospital, but returned an hour later after her baby was declared healthy.

"Thank God my baby is fine though she was born under such terrible conditions. The roof leaked and it was damp," said Jali.

Angry shack dwellers said they were promised make-shift housing as temporary homes after their shacks were demolished.

But for the past five weeks, 250 people have squashed into three municipal tents.

Their shacks were demolished by a land owner who bought the land from the municipality.

The people said they have lived in shacks near Pieter's Road for the past 15 years. The area has no running water. The three portable toilets overflow and many children suffer from diarrhoea.

Resident Florence Geleka said they are tired of waiting.

"S'bu Gumede, chairman of housing and infrastructure, promised us corrugated-iron houses within a week after our shacks were demolished.

"We have been waiting in vain for five weeks. Our main concern is our health and that of our children who are already sick," Geleka said.

She said most of the people sleep in the veld because there are not enough tents.

"It's like we are not part of the South African society that is assured shelter."

Ndabayakhe Nxumalo said he had no choice but to build himself a shack. But it is so small that he has to crawl to go inside.

"It's very hot in there, but what can I do? It's a situation I have been forced to live under by people who are supposed to provide for us," Nxumalo said.

Thembinkosi Qumbelo of the South African Shack Dwellers Organisation said they suspected a sinister motive because all shacks in and around the city were being demolished.

"I think there's something more to this. How come the shacks not far from the city are demolished?

"We are concerned that the municipality sells land instead of buying it for the people. It's a big worry and I think the motive is political," said Qumbelo.

He said he is waiting to hear from the municipality about the date for a meeting.

Gumede was unavailable for comment yesterday. His office said he was attending to meetings.


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