South Africa: Eastern Cape Families Who Were Promised Houses Have Been Given … Toilets

Municipality and province disagree about housing list

  • Sixteen families were left behind in 2009 when the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality moved residents of Mnune, in Whittlesea, to new housing.
  • The families were promised RDP houses.
  • They are still waiting.
  • The municipality says they’re on the approved housing list but the provincial housing department says they’re not.
  • Meanwhile, they have been provided with toilets instead of houses.

Sixteen families in Whittlesea, near Komani in the Eastern Cape, who were promised houses more than 14 years ago have been provided with toilets, but not houses.

Mnune Extension 2 in Whittlesea, where they live, was formed in 2006. The area, with zinc and mud houses, does not have electricity and has very little water.

The 16 families were left behind in 2009 when the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality moved some residents of Mnune to temporary houses in a nearby area called Mabuyaze. Those who were left behind were promised they would be moved to RDP houses, confirmed Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa.

He said the families are on the housing list and have “approved” status. The municipality has identified serviced housing sites in Extension 4 in Whittlesea, he said.

But the families are sceptical that they will ever be moved. Zizipho Ntaba shares a three room mud house with seven family members. The house looks promising from outside with plastering but it leaks and the roof moves when it is windy.

“It’s been 14 years now waiting and there’s no action. Instead of moving us to houses they have built us toilets,” said Ntaba.

The 16 toilets were built late last year and are similar to pit toilets. Residents have to carry a bucket of water to the toilets to flush them.

The 16 families share one standpipe tap, which has water only in the morning, for a few hours. For the rest of the day, and at night, the tap is dry.

Ntaba said the toilets are useless without water.

“We are happy to have the toilets after so many years of relieving ourselves in an open field, but I think the municipality is just delaying the process of building us RDP houses,” said Ntaba.

She said for years they have been in and out of the municipal offices asking about the promised RDP houses, and all they are told is that they are on the “approved” list.

“When we ask when and where the houses are going to be built, they tell us to wait for officials to come to our area,” said Ntaba. When officials did visit the area last year, residents thought they would be told about their RDP houses. Instead they were given toilets.

“These toilets were built late 2023, best timing for the municipality to use as a campaigning weapon,” she said.

Contrary to what Kowa said, Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements spokesperson Siyabonga Mdodi said Ntaba’s mother’s application was still “pending completion of the approval process” for a house in the planned 1,000 house project in Whittlesea. Asked about the other families, he said they were not on the list.

He promised to follow up in collaboration with the municipality. “It is our commitment to leave no one behind,” he said.

Councillor Zuko Mandile (DA) blamed the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements for delays in providing the houses. He said there is a shortage of RDP housing throughout the Eastern Cape.

“To be honest with you, most people here have lost hope that we will ever receive the RDP houses,” said Ntaba.

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