Woman sleeping outside ANC’s Durban offices ’is demanding an RDP house in Cornubia’
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Durban - ANC leaders in KZN have been accused of being heartless for ignoring a homeless member who has been sleeping outside Durban provincial offices. But the party representatives said this was untrue as the woman refuses to be helped.
Sindisiwe Abigail Mabaso, 45, has become a spectacle on Simelane Stalwart Street (Stanger Street). She wants the ANC to provide her with a RDP house in Cornubia and will not settle for anything else.
Mabaso, who is disabled and uses a walking aid, has been camping outside the offices for the past two weeks, spending the cold nights on the floor. She is a registered office management student at the University of South Africa (Unisa), and has been sleeping on a bath towel and a pillow.
Next to her is a small plastic bag filled with clothes and a backpack containing her study material which she ties to her arm when falling asleep. She covers herself with a kanga bearing the party’s logo.
Mabaso, previously stayed with a small group of blind, deaf and mentally disabled residents at Clarendon, the home for the disabled in Albert Park before they were relocated to the south coast to make way for renovations.
She said when they returned to Durban six years later they were placed in different shelters. Mabaso, a disability grant beneficiary, said she left the shelter because she could not afford a monthly rent of R1800.
Mabaso claimed she was a laughing stock to people visiting the offices. She said politicians and officials who come for meetings often looked at her with disdain while some waved at her with a smile calling her a comrade. Mabaso said her body has started to ache from sleeping on the cemented floor.
“I am so disappointed in my organisation for failing to help me. I want to live a normal life. I often dream of owning a decent home. To keep myself warm, I walk around and start fantasizing sleeping in a warm bed. It is tiring being shifted around different shelters,” said Mabaso.
She said every morning she walked to the Unisa building to ask to use the bathroom and freshen up. She said at night she often stayed awake fearing that she could be attacked and robbed by vagrants loitering the streets.
“I am grateful to the security guards across the road who keep a watchful eye when I fall asleep. I may not wake up the next day because of the cold and hunger,” she said.
When asked why she left her family home in Mandeni she pointed to a lack of service delivery. She complained that roads were bad for someone in her condition and there was no water in the area.
Mabaso said Mandeni was also too far for her to attend classes.
Her legs were too weak after she suffered from polio at the age of five. She said the late MEC for Transport Bheki Ntuli paid for her tuition fees.
KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said Mabaso fled from a place of safety in Sherwood where she was placed.
He said she was demanding an RDP house in Cornubia and refused to budge on anything else.
“She is very stubborn. No one should be blamed for her misery. She often runs away from the shelter to camp outside offices. She was allowed to sleep at our offices but she started a fire inside. We have requested police to remove her but they told us she had done nothing wrong by sleeping outside the offices. We do not understand what kind of intervention she needs,” said Ntombela.
A social worker also confirmed that Mabaso was placed at John Edward Palmer house in Sherwood but she fled without paying a rent. She said to stay at the home a resident was required to pay R1500.
“She has no one to blame but herself. Wherever she goes she causes trouble. We do not want her back here. I am not bad mouthing her, she is a menace. She stayed here for months refusing to pay. Social workers are tired of her tantrums and theatrics,” she said.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said the department has done everything to help Mabaso. He said she once camped outside their Pietermaritzburg offices.
“The last straw was when she demanded her own house in Cornubia. She has been doing this for years. We had activated a team of social workers to place her at a home of safety but she ran away to the offices. We honestly do not understand what to do about her,” said Memela.
However, Xolani Dube, a senior researcher at the Xubera Institute for Research and Development,has lashed out at the ANC for disrespecting its members. He said had there been leadership in KwaZulu-Natal this crisis would have been avoided.
“What makes them so heartless after growing up in poor villages with no water, electricity? This summarises that we have leaders who close their eyes and ears when required to help the poor. eThekwini has mismanaged about R6,5 billion which would have been used to build homes for the homeless. Our leaders have normalised poverty for some people,” said Dube.