Another winter after 22 years waiting for a house

| Mary-Anne Gontsana
Wheelchair-bound Mbuyiselo Vena has been struggling during the heavy rains. Photo by Masixole Feni.

“I doubt that I will get my house while I am still alive”, says wheelchair-bound Mbuyiselo Vena who has been on a waiting list for a house since 1992. But the City of Cape Town says Vena no longer wants his house built via the Iqhayiyalethu project, and that he needs to join a different housing project.

GroundUp first wrote about Vena in 2013. Since then nothing has changed.

Sitting in his wheelchair, taking in the sunlight shining through his doorway, Vena said this week he had lost hope of ever getting his house and was struggling during the heavy rains that have hit Cape Town.

Pictures on the bright pink walls of his blue, four-room shack in KTC show Vena before he had his legs amputated. His wheelchair is unstable and skew on the brown mat which covers the uneven sandy floor. The rusty zinc ceiling leaks when it rains, making it even more difficult for him to move around.

The rusty zinc ceiling leaks when it rains, making it even more difficult for Vena to move around. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Vena suffers from diabetes, which has stripped him of sight in his left eye, and also led to the loss of his legs in 2010. An open sore on his big toe resulted in him having his foot and then his leg amputated. After some time, he also had to have his other leg removed, spending months in hospital trying to come to terms with not being able to walk. Before the amputation, Vena worked as a hotel chef.

Despite his disability, he is able to cook, wash and dress himself. He lives with his son, who has a shack in the backyard, and he also has a live-in girlfriend.

He recently bought sailcloth to cover his leaking roof at a cost of R600 paid from the R1350 he gets monthly as a disability grant. But the cardboard walls of his shack are stained by the weekend’s rains.

The sailcloth Vena bought with money from his disability grant to cover his leaking roof. Photo by Masixole Feni.

“I don’t know what to do anymore. I was extremely sick a couple of months ago. My face even swelled up because of the cold and I thought I was going to die,” said Vena.

Vena has been part of the Iqhayiyalethu Housing Project which was started in 1992, but still does not know what is happening with the house that he is supposed to receive.

Siyabulela Mamkeli, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, said when the builder asked Vena to demolish his shack last year so that building could start on his house, Vena had refused, demanding a three-bedroomed house.

“The minimum standard for a subsidy house is two bedrooms”.

Mamkeli said Vena would now have to move to another project. “The Support Organisation and the project facilitator have spoken to Mr Vena on numerous occasions to no avail. The City has done all that it can to assist Mr Vena as part of this project, but he has refused the subsidy house offered to him,” said Mamkeli.

Vena said he had not refused a house but had been having trouble getting people to demolish his shack as he had no money to pay them. “I had last year put my name on the list of another housing project, Intsikelelo Ka Thixo, because I had lost hope in Iqhayiyalethu,” said Vena.

He said he did not know what to do anymore, and he had no choice now but to wait and see what would happen with Intsikelelo Ka Thixo.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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