Doornkop squatters pushed to back of housing queue

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

Residents of informal settlements in Doornkop, Soweto have been passed over time and again for housing despite many promises over many years.

I visited this area in north-western Soweto yesterday as part of the DA’s “Don’t forget the forgotten” campaign in which I visit neglected areas once a month and stay the night to experience conditions there. I was accompanied on my 25th such visit by DA constituency MP James Lorimer and local DA activists.

In the Doornkop Block 12 informal settlement I was shown application forms for housing dating back to 1996. But applicants said that the houses they were supposed to get had been given to others because of corruption.

This informal settlement dates back to 1993. There are 200 shacks which house about 1000 people in poor conditions.

The council has provided Ventilated Improved Pit toilets for most of the shacks, but mysteriously left out about 50 shacks. Residents say this was because they did not support the ANC.

The home-made pit toilets that I saw were all rickety structures. The worst one gave no privacy except for a blanket that was placed over a plastic packing case that served as a seat over a stinking hole. It was used by a pregnant woman, her mother and two children.

I am very pleased that the owner of the nearby Build it store graciously agreed to sponsor the materials that DA volunteers will use to build a proper toilet for them.

Residents also complained about long queues at the Bophelong clinic which is an hour’s walk away. I visited the clinic which had a sign that said the average waiting time is four hours, but patients there said it was often longer. The head nurse complained that they were under-staffed.

At the nearby Siphumlile clinic, a sign said that the average waiting time was five hours, and patients there said a baby died recently while waiting in the queue. At both clinics, patients claimed that they were sent home to come the next day if they arrived after 12pm, but the staff denied this.

I spent the night at the shack of Ms Rahab Majara, an 80-years-old pensioner. She applied for an RDP house in 1996, but ignored ever since.

Doornkop Block 12 is a peaceful settlement whose people deserve better than the brush-off they receive from uncaring officials.