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'Sadly, I have never enjoyed the fruits of democracy'

Malifu Motinya, 82, still lives in a shack despite applying for an RDP house when Nelson Mandela was president.
Malifu Motinya, 82, still lives in a shack despite applying for an RDP house when Nelson Mandela was president.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

Democracy is a foreign word to Malifu Motinya as her life has not changed since SA had its first democratic elections in 1994.

Motinya, 82, who stays in a shack at Ramaphosa informal settlement outside Reiger Park in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, has been waiting for a house for 25 years.

Her shack does not have electricity, running water and a toilet. She still uses a paraffin lamp and a gas stove for cooking.

"What is this democracy you are talking about?" she asks.

"The only thing that has changed are the criminals that we are now faced with in our area. I remember when I first voted, I woke up very early as everyone was talking about the dawn of democracy.

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Motinya has to do with light from her paraffin lamp at night.
Motinya has to do with light from her paraffin lamp at night.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

"Sadly, I have never enjoyed the fruits of democracy but I still love the ruling party because of Nelson Mandela [the late former president]," she said.

Since 1994, the government has built and handed over more than 2-million RDP houses to beneficiaries.

The Gauteng department of human settlements yesterday said the backlog in the province stood at 1,1-million.

Motinya's shack stands out with its sky blue colour. Her neat shack is divided into three rooms - a kitchen, sitting room and a bedroom. She stays alone.

There are two 25litre buckets that she uses to get water for cooking and bathing. Every street in the settlement has a communal tap.

"I was among the first people [in the area] to register for a house when Mandela was still the president. I don't know how many times I have been told to fill out the forms as I will be top priority on the list.

"The only thing I see are officials coming here to make empty promises. I am always dreaming of owning a proper house but I am scared that I will die in this shack," she said.

Her application papers for the house are neatly packed in her wardrobe.

She has never owned a television set.

"I would love to own one but I fear for my safety. The light from the TV will attract tsotsis to come to my place. I am fine with the small radio that I have as I am able to listen to news and drama stories on it."

Motinya hasn't lost faith in the ANC still attends party events in her area.

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