SHARON Pitzner, 52, is a bit of an oddity in the Qolweni informal settlement in Plettenberg Bay.
Qolweni’s residents are almost exclusively black, but Pitzner, who is white, says she does not feel out of place living there with her mixed-race daughter. She’s lived in Plettenberg Bay for 15 years, where she moved to from Cape Town following a tragedy after her divorce. “My parents used to bring us on holiday to Knysna and I fell in love with this region,” said Pitzner.
She moved to Plettenberg Bay after losing her eldest daughter in a car accident.
Pointing to housing developments nearby, Pitzner says: “Plett is only for the millionaires.”
Pitzner says she earns an income by face-painting and decorating shops during the holiday season. “I’m also a qualified dental technician and a photographer.”
Before she came to Qolweni, she lived in the KwaNokthula township, where she says she initially encountered hostility from her mostly black neighbours, but was soon accepted.
“I had difficulty when I first moved here, but I pushed through. In Plett there’s classism – the rich people look down on you,” she says.
Her boyfriend, who is a mechanic, says little, apart from acknowledging Pitzner as a bit of a celebrity in Qolweni for her willingness to speak to visitors. “I don’t have a job so he supports me with his income,” says Pitzner.
While some of her neighbours have moved into new government-subsidised homes at a development which has stalled, she says she’s been on the housing waiting list for 15 years but has been overlooked numerous times.
However, a community activist, who asked that his name not be published, said Pitzner had moved from KwaNokuthula to Qolweni, hoping to jump the housing queue.
“When people see development happening in one area they move there, hoping that they will become beneficiaries,” said the activist, who lives in a shack.