James Nxumalo is the mayor of Durban.

Durban - The eThekwini Municipality is planning to build high-rise social housing flats in the historically white suburbs in a bid to integrate all races and to “demonstrate that apartheid is over”, mayor James Nxumalo said.

Nxumalo said large plots of land had been identified in Durban North, uMhlanga, eManzimtoti, Westville and Pinetown.

The flats would be of a high standard, similar to those built in the Cornubia Housing Development in Mount Edgecombe, he said.

He was speaking at the handover of houses to eight families who had been identified through the RDP rectification programme. These are families whose homes were built in 1997, but later suffered damage due to shoddy workmanship.

“We need to advance. Right now we have two countries in one country; we have whites there, and blacks there. If you blindfold anyone and take them to the township and to the suburbs, they will tell you where the blacks live and where the whites live. The struggle continues for black people,” Nxumalo said.

“That is why we want to build houses for people in Westville. We want to demonstrate that apartheid is over, that it is a free South Africa for all. If we cannot do that, then we are not free,” said Nxumalo, stressing that the racial divide needed to be addressed.

Nxumalo said it was becoming difficult to build in the townships only, and said although it was preferable that homes were built for people where they resided, there was nothing wrong with building in areas previously associated to other races – if land was available.

But he said there was still a huge backlog for the city.

Upwards of 400 000 people were still on the housing waiting list, while there were 292 000 shacks in Durban alone. The municipality is building 15 000 homes a year on average.

“We cannot be a gold or silver South Africa in a short space of time, it is not possible.”

Nxumalo told the small group of about 50 residents who received fruit parcels that they should steer clear from being misled by opposition parties who pretended to love them in return for votes.

The eight homes that were handed over were among 20 others that would be completed before March.

They were built in 1997, during the first roll-out of RDP homes by the government, and had been expanded from two-room, 15m2 to four-room 40m2 homes.

Some homes were in a state of collapse, while others were often flooded during storms.

One beneficiary was 55-year-old Lindi Dladla, a former ANC volunteer who had a stroke in 2011. She was delighted to receive her new home, which will be furnished by the municipality.

Nxumalo said two beds, two wardrobes, a chair and table set, kitchen cupboards and sofas would be delivered to the woman’s home in a week.

Before her stroke, Dladla was an ANC volunteer for six years, cooking and cleaning for soup kitchens held in the area for no pay.

“I don’t know what to say, I wish I could scream I am so happy. I know now that I will never have to worry about the rain.

“My home was damaged by the rain before I suffered a stroke. At the time I was planning to fix it myself, but I could not because of my health. I am so happy,” she said.

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