An oversight inspection by the Democratic Alliance (DA), of an eThekwini housing programme within Lamontville’s Ward 74, has exposed that residents are living in imminent danger in shoddily built homes located directly below a steep mud embankment with no retaining walls, which has already begun collapsing in some places (view here).
The residents live in units allocated as part of the eThekwini Slums Clearance Programme.
The DA’s visit, which took place earlier this week, was prompted after community members raised their concerns with local DA Councillor Sthe Ngema. It also took place after a week of continuous rain the area and has confirmed that there is a very real danger of this embankment collapsing onto the houses below, causing injury or even death.
The project is made up of 14 original units which were handed over to recipients three years ago. A further six units were handed over earlier this year by eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda while a new site has also been established for more homes where slabs have already been laid.
During the fact-finding exercise, the DA further engaged with residents and inspected the original units. We found that these houses are neither plastered nor sealed with clear signs of damp coming through the walls, creating an unhealthy environment. The units also have very steep staircases to the upstairs bedrooms which have no railings. There are also no ceilings, with huge gaps between the inside walls and the roof (view here).
There is also no bulk infrastructure, with the result that water, electricity and sewage are all supplied via illegal connections. In addition, there are no access roads or proper footpaths, making it very difficult for emergency services to gain access in the event of a crisis.
While the new homes appear to be of better quality, there are also no access roads, with only a very steep footpath in existence. Meanwhile, the site where new homes are to be built is located on an extremely dangerous incline with the groundwork already beginning to wash away. It is clear that any house built here will be in danger of washing away, a fact which is compounded by its location which is just above the Umlazi river and close to the flood plain.
The DA will submit written parliamentary questions to the MEC regarding this project. We will also request that the Chairperson of the portfolio committee requests a presentation on this particular programme by the eThekwini municipality.
We remain committed to ensuring that people are provided with housing that affords them dignity and to ensuring that the ANC does not place vulnerable citizens at risk in their bid to produce housing numbers in the lead up to elections.