Disabled woman lives in a flooded house

Nokuzola Qawu in front of her house. Photo by Mbulelo Sisulu

“Now we like animals because we do not know where we belong. How can we live like foreigners in our country? We do not have a councillor here because of this situation. Service delivery is very bad here”

East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Disabled woman, Nokuzola Qawu (39) of Ducats Township near East London in the Eastern Cape has been living in a house that is surrounded by water for 14 years.

A few years after she received her house, water emerged from the ground and surrounded the house. Heavy rains make things worse.

Nokuzola was born with a disability and walks with the aid of a crutch. She has been diagnosed with asthma, a result she believes of her living conditions. The water is filthy because it is stagnant.

She says all the previous and current councillors are aware of her situation but nothing is happening. “I am in huge risk here because this house can fall anytime because it has been in water for many years,” she said.

Another resident who is not happy, Nomalungisa Wayaya (36) is also a victim of this water. She says their electricity was cut off a long time ago because of this water.

“We went to Eskom to report the problem of our electricity. Then we were told that we have to talk to the municipality to sort out the issue of water in our area. The poles that supply us by electricity are in the water. So it is difficult for Eskom to work in a place that is surrounded by water. It is the duty of the municipality to clear that water because this water is damming here because municipality failed to level our streets. Now we have to buy paraffin in other to cook because of this situation. People of this area survive by social grant and other people are not working. Our kids developed pimples because of this filthy water here,” she said.

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Nomalungisa mentioned the fact that they do not know where they belong in terms of the municipality. They went to the Amathole District Municipality to report their problem but were then told to go to the Buffalo City Metro Municipality which just told them that they do not fall under its boundaries so should go back to Amathole.

“Now we like animals because we do not know where we belong. How can we live like foreigners in our country? We do not have a councillor here because of this situation. Service delivery is very bad here,” she said.

Manager in the Buffalo City Metro Municipality mayor’s office, Sinethemba Mashalaba says the issue of Ducats is difficult because of demarcation. “It is not clear that they belong to the Buffalo City Metro Municipality or to the Amathole District Municipality. We cannot provide service delivery to an area that we are not clear about where it belongs.” He assured Elitsha that these two municipalities are going to meet soon to discuss Ducats.

Eastern Cape Human Settlement spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha says the programme of rectification of houses is on hold at the moment. “Now this programme has been handed over to Human Settlement national. But it has not started yet because there are issues that need to be sorted out,” he said.

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