Durban - For years a leaky shack was all Hilda Hlongwa could call home.
That changed on Tuesday when the 71-year-old pensioner was handed the keys to a new brick house in Waterloo, near Verulam.
The donation was part of eThekwini Municipality’s Freedom Flame roadshow, to symbolise its achievements over the past 20 years.
The house was handed over by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, with mayor James Nxumalo, Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha and other politicians.
Hlongwa, who had been living in a shack at the Ocean Drive-In informal settlement, near oThongathi (Tongaat), said she was thrilled.
She said she had no idea she would be getting a new home. “My son came to fetch me and didn’t say where we were going and I almost fell over when they presented the house to me,” said the mother of two.
“I am very grateful. I have been living in unbearable conditions for many years and am very lucky to finally have a place I can call my own.
“The place where I currently stay is bad. It leaks and when it rains, I don’t sleep because I have to try to cover up things and make sure they remain dry.”
There was also no electricity or basic sanitation.
“My shack is very small. I use candles and I use a paraffin stove to cook which is not healthy foran old lady,” the 71-year-old said.
“But now everything has been made easier.” Addressing a small crowd in Hammonds Farm, Dube-Ncube said that the government was helping to improve living conditions.
“We just need you to take care of these houses and pay for services.
“And if you are not happy with something, you need to talk to those concerned and refrain from burning things and closing down roads,” she said.
“Today townships, which were previously neglected by the apartheid government, have access to water, electricity and decent roads.”