A R130 million RDP housing project in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality that started in 2017 remains incomplete. Over 800 families were expected to benefit from the Umbhayi Project. Only 11 units were completed in the last six years and remain unoccupied.
The 11 complete units have already been vandalised. Seven further units lack roofs. About a kilometre away from the Umbhayi Project is a transit camp. People here were promised they would be moved into the RDP housing project.
To further exacerbate the housing crisis in the area, across the road lies an informal settlement.
At the transit camp, families live in houses made of corrugated iron. They are forced to relieve themselves in the nearby bushes, faced with blocked and broken communal toilets and showers.
Several illegal electricity connections are visible.
Fifty-one-year-old Nokuthula Mthethwa lives here. She uses crutches after suffering a stroke last year.
She says, “This housing issue is such a big problem; we are waiting and unsure of when this project will resume. Nobody has been in touch with us to let us know what the issue is with this housing project. We are presently waiting, but even the ones we are currently living in are not in good condition. They don’t even have doors, which is extremely frustrating to me since I am unemployed. Maybe it’s better for those who are employed, but for me, it’s worse since I am using a walking stick because I have a stroke diagnosis. I hope they can also help us with electricity connections.”
The community says the incomplete units at the housing project are also being used as a hideout for criminals. Another land allocated for more housing units is filled with overgrown grass.
Linda Chetty says she has lost hope of getting her RDP house.
“We really did lose hope now because it’s like we are just left in a lurch to make believe we are going to get those houses, but I don’t think so because if you look at the community now. It’s getting bigger and bigger, with more and more houses coming up all over. So, I don’t know; it’s like there is no hope. For the years, we’ve lived in the community, it’s like some of them have also been deceased, like we have belief and hope that we’re going to get a house this year.”
Sindi Mngoma lives in the nearby informal settlement. She speaks about feeling abandoned by the municipality.
“We don’t have water; we are doing laundry on one water tap that was installed a long time ago, and it’s far away from us. We don’t have toilets; we have to go to the bushes in order to relieve ourselves. We don’t have electricity; we are using candles. When you connect illicit electricity, you must pay for it as well, just like when you are using legal electricity.”
The eThekwini Municipality is aware of inquiries made by SABC News regarding the Umbhayi Housing Project, specifically related to why the project has stalled and confirmation of the allocated funds, but they have yet to respond.