Thousands of impoverished to get decent homes

By Neville Maakana

Tzaneen - The Greater Tzaneen local municipality has begun formalising Mbambamencisi informal settlement near Nkowankowa outside Tzaneen to give thousands of poor people access to houses, electricity and running water for the first time in their lives.

Spokesperson for the municipality Odas Ngobeni said the sprawling informal settlement was home to some 10 000 people who are living without electricity, hence the name Mbambamencisi, which is a Shangaan word that means "groping for a box of matches in the dark".

In the past two years, five children in the area have been killed after touching exposed electricity cables installed by "izinyoka" electricity thieves.

"The residents have started getting a taste of a better life. Above all, they have received legal recognition as residents of the municipality," said Mr Ngobeni.

He said the formalisation project started two years ago when development planners demarcated streets, parks, schools, clinics, residential and business sites.

Today, 500 RDP houses are being built at a cost of about R20 million. The housing project was launched in April last year and is expected to be completed in 2010.

More than 400 people have been hired to build the houses. Each unit costs R43 506 and 184 of them have already been completed.

One of the beneficiaries is Maria Nhlangwini, 45, a single mother of five who have been living in a shack without running water and a toilet for more than 15 years.

"I feel like a human being now that I will get a proper house. I will sleep peacefully at night even when it rains. I am very happy," she said.

Mr Ngobeni said Mbambamencisi would now be included in the municipality's Integrated Development Plan, which is a programme that helps the municipality to focus on the most important needs of local communities.

He added that the formalisation project would be extended to all other informal settlements around Tzaneen, which is the largest town in Limpopo's Lowveld area. - BuaNews