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Stepping in where the government is failing to improve the plight of the poorest of the poor is how the Economic Freedom Fighters describes its mission to rebuild houses damaged in a storm, almost two months after the disaster struck residents of Mamelodi.
On Wednesday, “fighters” descended on the house of the Seseni family, where they started repairs to the roof and fixed broken windows.
“Part of our founding manifesto is the principle of bringing back the dignity of our people,” Tshwane regional EFF member Eddie Mathiba said.
“These people were left homeless by those storms, and the Tshwane metro has failed to take responsibility and make sure the houses were repaired.”
The roofs of the Seseni family’s four-room house and an outer two-room structure were damaged during the storm that hit the area in November. It also damaged the windows of both houses, allowing rain and wind in.
“We spent the festive season gazing at the stars, scrambling up onto the roof every time it rained to fix the plastic covering provided by the municipality,” said Solomon Seseni.
Their furniture was damaged and clothing, beds and bedding got so wet that most of it had to be thrown away, he said.
Electronic equipment, like TVs, sound systems and microwaves were also damaged by the rain. Seseni said they were told to wait until the end of this month for assistance.
He had all but given up hope when, a few weeks after he joined the EFF, a delegate visited his house.
“After making an assessment, they came back and offered to repair all the damage,” he said.
Seseni shares the family home with his younger sister and her three children.
On Wednesday, his older, married sister Gladys had come to see the EFF members at work. She said her relief at the intervention was immeasurable.
“Whenever it rained, I would rush over to fetch the kids, and every time I came, the place would be flooded,” she said.
The repairs, which would extend beyond the Seseni home, were funded by the Tshwane region of the EFF and assistance from the provincial and national command team, said Mathiba.
“It is our duty and social responsibility to assist our people, as we all know the wheels of the ANC and disaster management processes move slowly.”
On Wednesday, men in red T-shirts were still working on top of the outbuilding, repairing the roof. They said they would be back to repair the windows and all the leaks in both houses.