Burnt out flat robs her of cosy home and hope

Canaan Mdletshe

Nqobile Khambule, 22, of Mayville, outside Durban, has found refuge in a neighbour's home after her flat was gutted by fire at the beginning of the year.

But she is unlikely to get a home of her own any time soon because nobody owns the block of flats she was living in.

Nigel Gumede, head of the Housing Department, said the flats had belonged to the Housing Association, but it dissolved a long time ago.

He said the community had been staying there without paying for services.

Gumede made it clear that the municipality could not get involved in a facility that was not owned by them.

"As things stand at the moment, that area hangs in the balance. No one owns it," he said.

However, Gumede said they were negotiating with provincial government to hand over the ownership of the flats to the municipality. But that is scant comfort for Khambule.

Her mother died in January last year, leaving her with her two year-old little brother, S'kelelo, and her own two-year-old son, Andiswa.

She said her mother, who lost her job a long time before she died, had told the housing association that she was no longer employed and would not be able to pay rent.

After her death, Nqobile had to look for employment to keep the family going. She managed to find a part-time job at a chain store.

"We are struggling to make ends meet, but one has to survive anyway. I am a parent and I must provide for these young kids, including my young brother. They don't know what happened and I must not make them feel that they are orphaned."

"If only I could get some donations to rebuild or a get my own house to stay in," Khambule said wistfully.