About 40 people took part in the protest‚ some with fighting sticks. A memorandum listing the community’s concerns was addressed to eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. It was received by her advisor Mlungisi Ntombela.
Bonginkosi Sibiya from Nongoma‚ in northern KwaZulu-Natal‚ has been living in KwaMashu’s hostel for 15 years. His father lived in the hostel for 40 years. They both had intended to stay at the hostel only while seeking employment in the neighbouring areas‚ but Sibiya says in the 15 years he has only been able to get temporary jobs‚ paying him only enough to provide for him and his wife.
The hostel‚ which consists of many blocks‚ is home to thousands of people who share about a dozen communal bathrooms‚ with half of them unoperational. Some of the sewage drains are blocked and leak onto the walkways and doorsteps of the units.
Many families in the hostel community have built shacks using mud‚ planks and tin alongside the brick and mortar structures‚ because families with women and children cannot live inside the hostel units. The hostel was originally built for workmen who lived without women. The shack-dwellers are part of the hostel community.
Nhlakanipho Biyela says the hostel is notorious for crime and home to many gunmen involved in assassinations. She described the living conditions that are “intolerable and inhumane”.
“A-Section was divided into two different wards after the local council elections in 2016. The hostel now fell into a new ward… We get no basic services unless we burn tyres and stop trains and threaten the city’s economy. To them‚ we’re not deserving of any benefits rightfully ours as a community‚” says Biyela.