Ceres mom and disabled son asked to vacate abandoned municipal building
Cape Town - The Boland ANC Women’s League coordinator, Gladys Bakubaku-Vos, is calling for urgent intervention in the case of a mother of five and her disabled son who have been asked to leave an abandoned municipal building classed as unfit for human occupation.
According to Bakubaku-Vos, Nomamapondomise Cynthia Bless, 53, and her disabled wheelchair-bound son, Walter Manjiya, moved into the building in desperation after spending more than 20 years on the municipality’s waiting list for a house.
Bakubaku-Vos said: “Bless, who was evicted from where she was staying with her family, found refuge in an abandoned municipal building that has been vacant since 2018.
“The heartless Witzenberg municipality has opted to evict the family from the building instead of assisting them to find alternative accommodation. It is especially bad given that there is a disabled person involved.
“The ANCWL calls on the provincial government and other relevant authorities to urgently intervene in the case of Mrs Bless, and for the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate the treatment of the family by the law enforcement officers and the Witzenberg municipality, which even hired a security company to torment the family.”
Bakubaku-Vos welcomed the fact that ANC Human Settlements spokesperson Andile Lili had taken up the matter in the legislature by asking Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers to explain why the family had not been given a home despite having applied for a subsidised house in 1991.
Simmers admitted that Bless was the recipient of a housing subsidy approved by his department on September 1, 2020, for the Vredebes Housing Project in Ceres, but the house was still to be built.
In a written response to Lili, Simmers said the department had been in touch with the Witzenberg municipality for answers.
According to Witzenberg municipal manager David Nasson, Bless had moved into the abandoned building which had been damaged and looted during a protest march and began refurbishing it by replacing roof panels and window frames.
It was this action of moving into the abandoned municipal building and beginning construction work that led to the council dispatching its law enforcement unit to the premises where they removed the roof panels and window frames that Bless had installed.
Law enforcement then told Bless to leave the premises and filed a complaint of trespassing at the Ceres police station.
Explaining why Bless was still on the waiting list, Nasson said: “At the time of the approval of the project, the single and semi-attached dwellings were already occupied or allocated in terms of the established criteria and the only available housing was the duplex dwellings.
“Due to the disability of Mrs Bless's son, the council's housing committee was of the opinion that it would not be practical and feasible to allocate a duplex dwelling to her and instead she should be given priority at the first available single dwelling.”
Nasson said the matter had been referred to the municipality’s housing committee on an urgent basis for further consideration and discussion.