Bonisile Dlamini, who looks after five children and grandchildren, outside her makeshift house in the bush. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - The festive season is usually associated with joy, laughter and celebrations. But for Bonisile Dlamini it ends another year of homelessness and misery.

Dlamini, 57, has been living in the bush near Sherwood, outside Durban, with her five children and grandchildren aged between 7 and 27 since 2016.

She became homeless when her house in Ixopo was set alight, allegedly by close relatives while she was in Durban taking care of her daughter who had been hit by a car.

On her return to Ixopo, she found her house in cinders.

“I have nobody. They destroyed everything I had at the time so I decided to come here for my safety. Life is not easy. None of the children attend school and I get by with selling fruits and sweets near the petrol station in Sherwood,” she said.

Dlamini’s makeshift home is constructed with pieces of masonite off-cuts and is deep in the bush - invisible from the nearby King Cetshwayo Highway.

To get to her shack from the main road, she has to navigate the dense bush and cross a temporary wooden bridge. She gets water from the nearby river and uses tins for cooking.

Bonizile Dlamini leads the way to her makeshift house in the bush in Sherwood, outside Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Dlamini said while many people were busy buying, gifts, clothes and groceries for Christmas, she had to explain to her children why they could not celebrate.

“I tell them that my priority is to make sure they will have the next meal. They will often ask to be taken to the beach or get new clothes for Christmas, which I cannot afford.

“When they ask for Christmas clothes I tell them they do not have that luxury because every cent I get has to be spent on essential items.

“I wish I can afford to make them happy and understand what Christmas means, but all I can do is to provide a meal for them.”

She said some motorists had been generous to her by donating blankets, clothes and food.

“My wish is to get a proper shack and a trading permit because sometimes the few items that I have get confiscated by the metro police since I don’t have a licence. I would also like to get to a place where my kids will be able to attend school,” she said.

Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Dlamini was recently visited by eThekwini Municipality executive committee member Thanduxolo Sabelo and KZN MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu, who promised to change her life.

Sabelo offered to provide temporary shelter while the municipality built her a house and provided groceries for Christmas. Mshengu said he would make sure the children were enrolled for school next year.

However, Dlamini was still waiting for the politicians to deliver on their promises.

Sunday Tribune