78-year-old Limpopo granny says she doubts she’ll ever see her promised house

Councillor says construction will start “soon”

By Bernard Chiguvare

12 May 2021

Photo of a woman in front of a dilapidated house

Sarah Mathatswana, 78, sitting in her favourite spot outside her dilapidated rondavel. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Sarah Mathatswana is 78. She lives in a dilapidated rondavel in Mutiti village in Nzhelele in Makhado, Limpopo. “One day this house will fall on me,” she says.

She is not sure when her husband, who died in 2010, first applied for an RDP house for them. She has also applied, but to date nothing has happened.

Ward 35 Councillor Mathakha Mokgoadi (ANC) said Mathatswana was one of eight beneficiaries of RDP houses and these had been approved. But the Covid-19 pandemic brought the project to a halt. “I am sure the construction will start soon,” she said.

“These [promises] have been going on for years, and we can only believe it when they start building,” says her grandson, Bveledzani Muabve, who lives with Mathatswana.

Muabve, who is 28 and a student at Northern Technical College, says, “I have to make sure I am home everyday around 6pm. It is now not safe to leave her for a day. The structures are in bad shape.”

The home consists of three ramshackle structures and a pit toilet. Mathatswana is partially blind and uses a walking stick. She struggles to use the awkward pit toilet. She has electricity but no piped water. She buys 100 litres of water for R50 and it has to last her for a week.

“My husband and I built these structures around the 1970s from mud and poles. We could not afford erecting brick structures. After 1994, we again managed to build a third structure from fragile bricks,” she says.

“Whenever I apply for an RDP house they either do not respond or they tell me stories. In 2020, I was informed that I am among five people who should be allocated an RDP house but up to now I have not heard any word from them.”