New housing project cheers up homeless

Mthetho Ndoni

Mthetho Ndoni

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality launched its R662032 housing project in Veeplaas, Port Elizabeth, on Friday.

Veeplaas, one of the oldest townships in Port Elizabeth, was badly affected by devastating floods in August last year.

One of the first beneficiaries of the project, which has seen some 21 subsidy houses being built, is Meluxolo Mbewu, 51, who previously lived in a shack.

Mbewu and his mother, Evelyn Mbewu, 75, were happy when they officially received his new house keys from councillor Melvin Manentsa.

Mbewu said it was the first time he had a place he could call his own. "I will share this house with my younger brother. My mother has her own house in another area but luckily very close to us," Mbewu said.

He had lived at Veeplaas since 1968 and did not even think about moving to another township.

Mbewu said he had given up hope after the floods damaged their shacks last year and the municipality had promised them a better living standard and houses.

"These houses are long overdue. They were supposed to have been built last year as funding was available from the national, provincial and local government," Mbewu said but he was nevertheless delighted to finally have a house.

While inspecting Mbewu's new home, councillor Manentsa said that people should look after their houses.

"People now have a new habit of selling their subsidy houses and building themselves shacks in informal settlement areas," he said.

He also issued a warning to contractors who did not meet the deadline for houses to be finished.

He said it was unfair for people like Mbewu to have to move into a house that did not yet have running water because of delays by the contractor.

The spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Kupido Baron, said the housing project had been started by the municipality in June last year. He said the municipality was also still waiting for the provincial department of housing and local government to approve and fund this project as funding currently came from the local government institution's own coffers.