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By unknown | Jan 22, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Making it through the day and night in tents is a struggle for more than 50 homeless families.

A burst pipe last December destroyed their shacks at the Ekuthuleni informal settlement at Overport in Durban.

Since then, the families have been housed in two tents in a small park near businesses and flats on busy Ridge Road.

The people said eThekwini municipality housing department provided them with temporary shelter and promised them RDP houses in Mount Royal near Mount Edgecombe within three months.

The situation is shocking. A sick man was lying on a bed with flies all around him. Children with runny noses and elderly people sat under the trees, trying to cool off from the heat in the tents.

The children's parents had gone off in search of jobs.

One tent houses women and children and the other one the men. There are more than 30 old beds in each tent.

The families were moved into the tents on December 13.

The stench in the two mobile toilets is overwhelming. There are no bathroom facilities and the people have put up a make-shift tent, which they use as a washroom.

The women fetch water from a tap in the area.

Spokesman for the community, Nathi Manzi, said: "Because there are no proper facilities or drainage, there are lots of mosquitoes and flies."

He said they did not feel safe.

"We were left in a park to continue with our lives. This place is not safe. It is hard sleeping in a tent. There are no doors to lock. All sorts of people wander around here in the middle of the night and we do not feel safe," Manzi said.

He said though police come every day to check on them, they never come at night.

Manzi said they survive on food donations from a nearby mosque. He said another local gave them two generators and lights.

Manzi said: "It is very sad because all the help we get is from the Indian community. There are black business people, but none of them want to give back to the black community."

Business leaders said they were concerned about the deteriorating situation.

They said the park was a facility for children to play in and not meant for human habitation.

"This is a small park, big enough to park about 15 cars. I hope the municipality can sort it out. You cannot expect people to live like that. It wouldn't be done in Umhlanga or Hillcrest - why here?" said one business leader.

eThekwini municipality's head of housing, Nigel Gumede, was in a meeting and not available for comment.


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