The Eerste River Military Veterans Housing Project is one of the initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life of military veterans. The project is due to be completed at the end of May. Picture: Henk Kruger
Cape Town - In recognising and honouring military veterans for their sacrifices and contributions to the nation during the Struggle against apartheid, 10 military veterans were handed houses in the province’s Eerste River Military Veterans Housing Project.

The housing project, which will see a total of 73 residential houses built, is one of the initiatives by the Human Settlements Department aimed at improving the quality of life of military veterans.

Construction on the project started in 2016 and 20 units have been completed. The project is due to be completed at the end of May this year.

The handover, which was done at Eerste River, formed part of a multi-million rand project aimed at addressing the housing needs of veterans from various military organisations.

Provincial Human Settlements’ MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, Military Veterans’ spokesperson Mbulelo Musi and the national Human Settlements Department’s Stakeholders and Intergovernmental Relations official William Jiyane handed over keys to the beneficiaries.

Vusumzi Gidimi, 47, was one of the beneficiaries of a new two-bedroom house.

He said he felt great and that being a beneficiary meant a lot to him. “I have been waiting to have a house of my own for a very long time.

“Now that I have it I will cherish it. For all the trouble we (military veterans) had to go through during the apartheid years we deserve this,” said Gidimi.

Jiyane said he was proud of the initiative.

“It is a very important gesture to help the veterans.

“I am hoping that those who receive these houses will enjoy them,” he said.

Madikizela told the gathering the housing project was a “huge achievement”.

“We walked a very long road to be here,” said Madikizela.

The project had had its share of challenges, as many of the veterans were still in their youth stages, some were not registered on the housing needs database and some were demanding bigger houses.

“We are giving houses under difficult circumstances,” said Madikizela.

He said to deal with the 526 000 families registered on the housing needs database, his department needed R80 billion.

The intention was to build 257 housing units, but only 73 military veterans qualified.

“We have the issue of policy that we have to adhere to. Those who had fallen fell out because of the criteria had to have a solution found to accommodate them.

“Just because this province is (governed) under a different political party there is a perception that there is no political will,” said Madikizela.

His department was the first in the country to provide housing specifically for military veterans. he said.

Musi told the gathering the initiative to provide houses to the military veterans was a way to say thank you for the sacrifices they made.

“Thank you for making us who we are and restoring our dignity - 23 years down the line you have people who fought in the liberation Struggle and have nowhere to sleep, he said.

“Today is a celebration,” said Musi.

He added that there were 650 military veterans on the database in the Western Cape alone.

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Cape Times