Fears of TB grips Lwandle evictees

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Copy of ct Lwandle Hall 5493 done (43117032) Independent Newspapers Despite abnormal living conditions, children from Siyanyanzela informal settlement in Lwandle take time to play in the community hall they have called home for the past five weeks. Picture: JEFFREY ABRAHAMS

Cape Town -

As the inquiry into the Lwandle evictions continues, residents are still living in a community hall more than a month after being removed from their homes and there are fears that TB may be spreading among them.

Residents have now been living in the Nomzamo Community Hall for five weeks after being removed from land owned by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on June 2.

An inquiry set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is expected to begin its work next week. It will investigate the circumstances in which the evictions took place, including the history of evictions and factors leading up to the application by Sanral.

A month and a week since their eviction, almost 900 residents, some ravaged by illness, still live in the hall.

Resident Qondiswa Msolo said they discovered a resident had TB and he became ill at the weekend.

“The paramedics who came to pick him up said the living conditions were not making it any easier for him. We are concerned that the children might contract it,” Msolo said.

When the Cape Times visited the hall on Monday, an elderly man was on his way to the clinic to schedule a check-up with a doctor after complaining about chest pain.

Msolo said living in the hall was difficult because it affected sleeping patterns. On Monday, she could not go to work because she was kept up by people who were awake.

But that was the least of her problems as residents remained in the dark about when things would go back to normal.

“Every week they say the following week we will go back, but nothing happens and the weeks keep rolling on. On Saturday, they said they would be putting concrete on the floors (on Monday) but that did not happen,” Msolo said.

A couple of hundred metres from the Nomzamo Community Hall, work on the temporary shelters to house the 849 residents continues. Some of the 200 structures were being built on Monday, but most of the structures have already been put up. Concrete flooring was yet to be completed.

Resident Mphatisi Tshetu, who is also a member of a community steering committee, said they had hoped to have returned at least 200 families this week, but that was unlikely.

“We are hurt that we are still living in the hall. There are a lot of people crammed into that small space and there are diseases,” he said. “We are still unsure about where we will go. The last information we got was that we would be moved to land in Macassar.

“The fight that is going on between the government and the council is delaying the process.”

In the hall the sleeping arrangements were either a mattress on the concrete floor or placed on a row of chairs to avoid the cold surface. Blankets are draped on the chairs and on the stage, which becomes a sleeping area at night. During the day, children play with soccer balls and toys as if all is normal around them.

Mayor Patricia de Lille’s spokeswoman, Pierrinne Leukes, said the city was looking for alternative land in the broader Macassar precinct to house the affected residents.

Leukes said De Lille had written to Sisulu asking what powers she had for establishing the commission, but she had “failed” to clarify this.

“In the absence of this information, the city has formally reserved our right to participate in the inquiry, as well as to challenge any findings that flow there from,” Leukes said.

Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said the inquiry had been working for the past 10 days and had already spoken to lawyers, NGOs and residents. He said the city was responsible for “accommodating its citizens”.

- Cape Times

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