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Johannesburg - A euphoric mood engulfed the Thembelihle informal settlement on Thursday as the City of Joburg’s housing department moved about 300 residents to the “greener pastures” of Lehae.
This was in sharp contrast to the September 2011 service delivery protests by the same people that saw residents firing live ammunition at the police, damaging cars, traffic lights and electricity meters.
Sybil Moloi, 75, got the keys to the first house she has ever owned.
“I don’t know what to say, I thank God. I was praying to God for a house all my life. Even now I can’t believe I have my own house,” said Moloi, who had lived in a Thembelihle shack since 1990.
She said she had been a “sleep-in” domestic worker before moving into the shack, and had applied for an RDP house in 1996.
Moloi moved into her new residence with her daughter, son and 14-year-old granddaughter, who is in Grade 8.
Another ecstatic new Lehae resident is Amelia Nomvula Ntengo, who announced to the crowd of onlookers after receiving her house keys: “I voted for (former president Thabo) Mbeki, then I voted for Gedleyihlekisa (President Jacob Zuma), now I have my key.”
Siblings Edward and Edwin Morwagae, 24 and 19 respectively, also got a house that their mother had applied for nine years ago.
She died in July 2010.
“I’m so proud and grateful to everyone who has (helped us in) getting a house. But I’m also very sad, as the house looks empty without our mother in it. We believe that wherever she is, she must be happy to see us in a proper house,” said Edward.
City of Joburg MMC for housing Dan Bovu handed over the keys to the new owners and cut ribbons at the doors.
Other new owners came from the Eikenhof and Kapok informal settlements.
Initially, Thembelihle had 4 600 households, of which about 1 500 were relocated to Vlakfontein. The remaining households were part of the contingent allocated houses in Lehae, or were still to get houses.