From apartheid hostels to family homes

30 March 2012

South Africa’s Gauteng province will spend R8.5-billion on formalising squatter camps over the next three years, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said at the opening of the first phase of the R487-million Jabulani Hostel Redevelopment Project in Soweto on Thursday.

The project will see 1 919 community residential and state-subsidised units completed over the next few years.

To be built on the site of the single-sex hostels designed for migrant labourers during South Africa’s apartheid era, the new units will provide a more family-oriented environment for the current hostel dwellers as well as other income groups.

Bulk infrastructure services will be completed by the end of April, with occupation expected at the end of May.

‘I’m overflowing with joy’

“I’m very happy. I’m overflowing with joy,” said 66-year-old Edmond Ngwenya, a hostel-dweller since 1968, who will be among those to move into the units once the finishing touches have been completed.

Ngwenya described the living conditions in the hostels as difficult, almost unbearable at times. The communal set-up allowed for little privacy and was no environment in which to raise a family, Ngwenya added. His new unit would finally give his family a home.

Also speaking at Thursday’s launch, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said the project would offer hope and dignity.

Bringing people together

He said it was an integrated project that would bring people together, adding that it was unacceptable to have the poorest of the poor on one side of the railway line and those who fell into different categories elsewhere.

“What we are seeing is a new attempt, a new vision, a new strategy to put our people together so that we negate what apartheid was doing.

“Our job is not to provide just houses but homes,” Sexwale said. “A home is an asset … One day, people will be able to trade these things … What we are seeing here is property development.”

People who do not have an income, up to those who earn R3 500 a month, will benefit from the project.

It will also cater to the “gap market” of people who earn too much to qualify for state subsidies, but too little to qualify for bank loans.

Source: BuaNews