Zuma receives warm welcome in Danville
Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma appeared touched by the reception he received from residents of Danville, Pretoria West, on Thursday.
He was showing them around their new homes as part of the launch of the new, low-cost housing settlement.
“This is what we want to see... [a situation] where no one feels like they are orphans in a country of their own,” he told residents.
“It is only here that I see a mixed crowd with different races... as one. It is with ordinary people that this feeling of oneness exists.”
The settlement would provide homes for low-income black and white families and was being launched to mark Mandela Day, the presidency said on Wednesday.
Zuma said on Thursday he visited the area several years ago to see where “poor whites are staying”.
“I saw conditions I never thought I would ever see. I thought they were all doing well,” he said.
He was also there to honour former president Nelson Mandela on his 95th birthday.
“We have come to do what is being done by everyone. We are here to take some time and do things to honour Madiba.
“I always feel happy with people like you, because you don't have artificial problems,” he said.
Zuma said one of the new homeowners, who was quite large, had been straightforward with him and asked him whether he expected her to fit in the new home's bathtub.
“I agreed that I would buy her a new bathtub,” he said.
“I also promised one [resident] that I would come one day for a cup of tea.”
He said one resident had told him the last time he was there that he needed an identity document.
“I delivered the ID to him today. He can now apply for his pension,” Zuma said.
“He was with his sister and brother-in-law and they all started crying.”
Children from the Siyabonga Early Learning centre, led by their teachers, sang happy birthday to Madiba when Zuma arrived. Some of the children wore the South African flag as capes.
Zuma applauded and waved to them. He then led several of the new owners around their homes, joking and pointing out each of the new rooms.
A group of ANC supporters stood nearby, singing his trademark song Awalethu Mshini Wam (bring me my machine gun).
He was accompanied by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.
Zuma spoke at a large truck parked opposite the newly-built houses and decorated with pictures of him.
A poster on the truck read: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black or white”.
Others read: “More than 110 families in Danville now have a place to call home” and “let's unite for Madiba”.
A large screen on top of the truck showed footage from the street.
A group of children danced in front of the camera and laughed when they saw themselves on the screen.
Earlier, residents gathered outside the homes to wait for Zuma.
“Happy birthday Madiba, love from Gert and Carol Bosch,” read a placard held up by one family.
Surika Domingus, a resident who was given 48-hours to vacate her home on Wednesday, hoped Zuma would give her a new home.
“My husband works for only R2500 a month. I have two children and I am pregnant with the third,” she said.
“I hope we will hear something about a new home today.”