Some families who have been living in abandoned school buildings in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, will finally be relocated after nearly 18 years.
The families said they started to lose hope when the temporary accommodation plan became permanent. They were first moved to classrooms at Lwandlekazi High School after their shacks burnt down in Block 40 on December 15, 2001. About 27 families are living at the school.
When GroundUp visited, the smell of faeces and urine was pungent at the entrance to the school yard, which was visibly unkept with thick, tall and wet grass. Every day, people queue for water at the only working standpipe that is situated behind a row of toilets which, residents say, are often blocked and smell.
Resident Nombulelo Mtwebana, 34, said: “We arrived here on 15 December 2001 with our mother after our shacks were burnt down at Ezivrandini area in Red Location. The municipal officials asked us to come and stay at this school temporarily while the municipality was busy relocating and building RDPs in the area.”
The first RDP houses were built in 2013 but Mtwebana’s family was not moved there.
“Living at the school is dehumanising,” she said. “We are a family of 14 sharing one classroom. The classroom is divided into four rooms with planks in order to have privacy,” she said.
Nobuntu Sonjani said they were given good news this week that some of them would be relocated to Motherwell and the fire victims