Giving shack dwellers home to be proud of
Edwin Makhumisani grew up as an orphan before he discovered his construction talent.
Now, the 34-year-old is highly sought-after to turn shacks and RDP houses into luxury homes.
"I grew up in a construction family. I was raised knowing the importance of working to be able to eat," said Makhumisani from Ha-Ravele village in Makhado, Limpopo.
The father of two has worked in the industry for the past 14 years after successfully completing a carpentry certificate from Vhembe TVET College in 2002.
Makhumisani, who works for a well-known construction firm, does his shack renovations over weekends and during his leave periods under his company, Nyachicero Group.
"I do not rest because money does not rest," he said, adding that he is able to complete a shack renovation in two days with hired help, for an average price of R30000.
Makhumisani said he was inspired by seeing materials such as fibre cement being used in the construction industry and realised that this could be used to make shacks more habitable.
Fibre cement is a material made up of many different ingredients.
"This really improves shacks because a normal shack is very cold in winter or very hot in summer. Using fibre cement makes it a comfortable temperature," he said.
Makhumisani covers the original shack with the material and extends the structure to turn it into a quality home.
He said the material is slow to burn, which can slow down the spread of shack fires.
"If the house catches fire, it will take time for it to burn down. People can escape before it burns down completely, which means it's safer compared to other shacks," Makhumisani said.
The construction innovator said he had faced some criticism from people saying that he is normalising poverty in the black community.
"All I can say is that it is better for people to stay in a decent and safe shack than one that is bad," he said.
Makhumisani said people in the industry have not yet caught up to using the method to improve shack dwellings and that has made him stand out in the industry.