After 25 years, 81-year-old Mthatha widow finally gets an RDP house

“I don’t have much but I’m happy for a decent house,” says Ndenzeni Njwenene

By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

4 March 2024

Photo of two women in front of a house

Ndenzeni Njwenene, 81, receives the keys to her RDP house. She applied in 1999, when she was 56. Photo supplied

Last year we reported how 81-year-old Ndenzeni Njwenene was living in a crumbling mud hut in Libode near Mthatha, Eastern Cape.

She first applied for a house in 1999 when she was 56. Decades later, she has at last received the keys to an RDP house.

“I used to tell people that I would die the minute I set my foot in it because of shock,” she told GroundUp.

Her new house has two bedrooms, an inside toilet, and an open plan kitchen and dining room. It is one of 10,317 houses being built as part of the Meyden Farm project which started in 2014, but has had numerous delays due to financing problems.

“I had already lost hope that I would ever receive this house. The only thing that kept me visiting the department’s offices was my daughter,” she said.

Her daughter has serious health issues and is dependent on Njwenene.

“In this house I can now welcome visitors. In that old house, I didn’t want any visitors,” she said.

In the past few years she struggled to maintain the old mud house that needed constant attention, as the walls cracked and the roof leaked.

After GroundUp published her story in December, she was told she would get a house in March.

Handing the keys to Njwenene, project community liaison officer Zameka Boyce said the house is not the original one promised to her, which was a double-storey.

“After we heard about her living conditions in Corhana, she had to be moved into this house, since we have not started to build the double-storey houses,” Boyce explained.

Njwenene was still busy figuring out how to move her belongings. She spent the first night sleeping on the floor. Later, a subcontractor gave her a small bed.

“People gave me the strength to continue fighting to have this house, and I will always be grateful to them. These days I sleep peacefully even though I don’t have much, but I’m happy for a decent house,” she said.