‘transit camp, a living hell’
RAW sewage, rodents and empty promises. This is what the residents of Isipingo’s Transit Camp are faced with on a daily basis.
The camp, which houses more than 1000 people, was designed as temporary accommodation.
A structure for people awaiting houses. It has now become a permanent fixture much to the ire of the local community.
According to residents, they were lured to the camp in 2008 with the promise that they would be granted government houses after a period of 6-12 months.
Four years later, they are still in the camp living in squalor constantly being ravaged by flash floods.
Vanitha Pillay, 42, said she was promised a house by their former councillor.
The councillor also told her the camp was a temporary set up and she would only be there for about six months.
“Freddy Maistry told us we would be getting houses so we must leave our informal settlements and move to the camp while our houses were being built.
“We are here for four years now and nothing has been done.
“We are living in hell, our children are getting sick because this place is so filthy,” said Pillay.
Recently the camp was ravaged by flash floods. Most of the residents lost all their possessions and Pillay was one of them.
She said: “What ever little we had was destroyed by the floods. We were up to our waist in water trying to save what ever we could.
“Our groceries, our clothes and our beds were destroyed. No one has come and assisted us, after the floods. We had no food.
“However, some generous person gave us four slices of bread and a tin of baked beans, that was all we had,” said Pillay.
Following the floods and lack of assistance, residents embarked on a strike action last week blocking Isipingo’s Old Main Road which runs parallel to the camp and demanded service delivery.
Happiness Mkize, 36, was one of those residents voicing her disapproval.
“We are living in terrible conditions. We have lost all of our things in the floods and nobody is coming to help us,” said Mkize.
Alternative housing arrangements were made for residents at the Lotus Park Community Hall and also at numerous marquees around the suburb but residents refused to move saying that leaving the camp would mean leaving the little possessions they had and conditions would be much worse. Current ward councillor Soonilall Kalicharan of the Minority Front said he supported the protests 100 percent.
“The transit camp was developed by the former ward councillor. After the protests, I contacted the various departments to assist but they are not willing to come out here and give assistance.
“As a councillor my hands are tied. I am calling on the provincial departments to come out here and assist because these people are living in deplorable conditions,” said Kalicharan.
Thabo Mofokeng, a spokesman for the eThekweni Municipality, said that Kalicharan’s claims were “not true”.
He said: “We assisted during the flooding and the matter of the transit camp is receiving our attention.”