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Life of Squalor while home used as clinic

Date Released: Sat, 23 July 2016 09:06 +0200

Life of Squalor while home used as clinic

PORT Elizabeth woman with a disability has been living in squalor for the past six years while the RDP house built for her, and on which she had pinned all her hopes for a better life, was being used by the government as a clinic.

Wheelchair-bound Vuyiswa Manqunyana, 24, became aware of the astonishing and painful fiasco in September last year when, after years of checking the progress on her housing application, she got a printout and discovered a house had been registered in her name in 2011 already, in Motherwell.

Unbeknown to her, it had been used as a clinic since 2010 – and the Department of Health claims it was not aware the two-bedroom NU29 home belonged to anyone.

The Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements provided funding for a 1 142-unit RDP housing project in NU29, while the Nelson Mandela Bay human settlement’s directorate contracted the builders.

After Weekend Post notified the municipality about the situation this week, the provincial Department of Health was given 14 days to vacate the property or face legal action.

The clinic has been running since 2010 and opens every Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 11am to 1pm.

Bay human settlements acting executive director Mandla George said the “system” had failed Manqunyana by never informing her the house was ready for occupation.

“Often a property remains vacant after building is finished because we cannot locate the beneficiary,” he said.

“That demonstrates the weakness in our system. We are fixing that. But in this case, the problem does not lie with the lady.

“It’s everybody’s puzzle as to why the department agreed to run a clinic from a low-cost house, which they know well that by policy those houses are built by the state to benefit individual households who are poor.

“They never made an attempt to contact us for permission to use it.”

George said upon investigation it had been found that the house was unoccupied when the request was made by a councillor and community members to use it as a clinic.

“We have given the [health] department 14 days to vacate the building, failing which the municipality will approach the court,” he said. “The lady will have her house by the end of this month.”

Manqunyana, who was born without the use of her legs, has been living with her mother in a dilapidated house in KwaDwesi Extension. They rent the property and are forced to move out every time the owners visit Port Elizabeth.

The ceiling of the room she shares with her mother is caved in and every time it rains it gets flooded.

She said the electricity was currently disconnected because of non-payment.

Manqunyana, who has a certificate in business administration but remains unemployed, dreams of having her own house where she can live with her mother.

“I am very angry. It’s been a long time looking for a place of my own and now this,” she said.

Manqunyana, who lives off R2 390 a month, which includes her disability grant, said she had first gone to her RDP house in September and seen a long queue of people waiting for healthcare. “I was dumbfounded,” she said. “I saw a driver dropping off nursing staff. One of them shouted at us, saying we must not go inside because they had to clean first.”

Her mother, Nokwenda, said: “I simply cried and broke down when I discovered it had been turned into a clinic.

“I felt extremely bad because this was our only hope to a better life.”

just a drop in the ocean and suspected there might be hundreds of RDP beneficiaries who were not aware their applications had been approved.

“My advice to them is that they must stand up and go and check with the housing board. They must stand up for their rights just as I have done.

“If I did not go there, I was going to remain in the dark. I have no doubt,” she said.

Provincial Department of Health spokesman Siyanda Manana said his department had “innocently” moved into the house.

“There was a need for health services in the area when the community and the ward councillor allocated the house to us for use,” he said.

The department even built a fence around the property.

“It’s only now that we have been informed that it belongs to someone that we have engaged with the municipality [to obtain] an alternative health service point for the community. We are prepared to move out.”

When Weekend Post visited the house this week, scores of people, including mothers and babies, queued in the garden.

Resident Andile Koliti, 52, who lives next door to the clinic, said the property had been unoccupied for years.

He said the community had approached the department to bring health services closer to the people.

The nearest health facility was in NU11 – 4km away.

“We informed health officials about an empty house in the area. But we know now the house belongs to a disabled woman. She must be given her property and alternative premises must be found.”

Nelson Mandela Bay has about 100 000 people living with disabilities.

Thoko Sipungu, human settlements researcher for the Public Service Accountability Monitor, said it was sad to learn of such cases because it stood in absolute contrast to the promise by Human Settlements MEC Helen SaulsAugust about “prioritising the destitute and vulnerable persons by restoring their dignity with quality homes”.

“This is symptomatic of deeper systemic failures in the arena of RDP housing allocation,” Sipungu said.

“This is a problem that spans across all provinces and it is going to continue until the department [either at national or provincial level] does something to change the way housing lists are handled right now.

“There are many people whose housing subsidy applications were approved but are still out in the cold due to the lack of transparency in the process.

“At the moment there are very weak accountability and monitoring systems with regard to the allocation of housing and this exposes the process to abuse and corruption, which then disenfranchises intended beneficiaries such as Manqunyana.”

Association for the Physically Disabled director Brian Bezuidenhout said Manqunyana’s plight was regrettable and unacceptable. “Mobility-impaired people have major challenges within the city. Accessible transport, public buildings and housing being just a few of the issues.”

 

Source: Weeken Post (South Africa)  http://herald.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx#

Source:Weeekend Post (South Africa)