People’s lives at risk as poorly constructed houses are not rectified

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlements continues to put people’s lives at risk as it fails to repair poorly constructed RDP houses through its rectification programme.

By failing to repair these houses, people are left vulnerable to severe weather conditions, which became apparent in Emzinoni Ext 23 in Bethal, when 26 houses were severly damaged by a storm last week.

These houses were earmarked for reconstruction and rectification in 2008 after a storm tore through the area, leaving many homeless. Although these units were supposed to conform to certain quality specifications, this was not the case, making them susceptible to storm damage.

If government was serious about rectification poorly constructed units situations such as this would not occur. Every year the department promises to mend all poor quality RDP houses in the province, sets itself targets, and fails to do so. Living in substandard quality houses is dangerous and the department should consider itself fortunate that there were no injuries or deaths during the Emzinoni incident.

The department should have ensured that RDP houses were constructed according to the required specifications for durability from the outset. By failing to do so it further endangered the victims’ lives and safety – and put them at great discomfort – as they now have to live in emergency tents.

Living in such conditions not only provokes an increase in crimes such as theft, it also renders women and girls vulnerable to violence and sexual crimes.

The DA will write to human settlements MEC Andries Gamede, urging him to take this matter seriously and assist the Emzinoni community by providing adequate housing. The storm damaged houses must be fixed as soon as possible while those that escaped damage, but are of a poor quality, be rectified.

We will also call on the MEC and the department to prioritise its rectification programme throughout the province.