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Wheelchair-bound man, 85, still destitute a year after floods

Howard Hlongwane next to his storm damaged house. l SUPPLIED

Howard Hlongwane next to his storm damaged house. l SUPPLIED

Published May 17, 2023


Durban — It has been more than a year since floods affected parts of KwaZulu-Natal, mostly places surrounding Durban.

Many lives were lost, some people are still missing and numerous homes were destroyed.

Just like Howard Hlongwane, an 85-year-old man from the uMzinto, eMalangeni area, whose house was affected. Hlongwane, who is wheelchair-bound, had to abandon his damaged house, along with his family, and seek refuge with neighbours.

“It is very difficult for me and my family right now. I am too old, I am always lying in bed. We had to ask community members for a place to sleep. We had to leave the house, because part of the roof is gone. When it is raining, water will be all over the place and we couldn't sleep.

“During last year’s floods, my house was damaged, some part of the roof was vandalised,” Hlongwane said.

He also said that he was the only one supporting his family with his pension money, as his two children are unemployed.

His complaint is that in the community there is a programme of building houses as part of service delivery, prioritising those who are affected by the floods and who are disadvantaged. However, he was left out despite contacting the ward councillor several times.

Howard Hlongwane’s storm damaged house. l SUPPLIED

On Wednesday, Emalangeni ward 7 councillor, Sthembiso Mshwathi, said he knew about Hlongwane’s situation, adding there were terms and conditions that needed to be followed when assisting community members with houses.

“I will attend Mr Hlongwane's matter right after this meeting, but I would like to clear up this misunderstanding among the Emalangeni community members that this housing programme has terms and conditions.

“We need to prioritise those in need accordingly. This house programme does not only concern ward 7, it includes three wards. I dispute those claims saying I refused to assist Mr Hlongwane. After my meeting today, I am visiting the family with the contractor,” Mshwathi said.

Currently, Hlongwane, his two children and two grandchildren are living at a community member’s house for free.

Howard Hlongwane’s storm damaged house. l SUPPLIED

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