Alex hostel dwellers bemoan basic services

Refurbishment of Nobuhle hostel in Alexandra was stopped over ten years ago and never restarted. All photos by Ramatamo Sehoai

Hostel residents in Alexandra township have been decrying lack of services at the hostels since 1994.

While the residents of Madala Hostel in Alexandra ward 75 can breathe a sigh of relief over the unfolding plan to refurbish their hostel, their counterparts at Nobuhle Hostel, just across the street on 6th and 7th avenue, are living in despair with no hope that their incomplete hostel will ever breathe life. The hostel has been left half done for more than ten years. Its ablution block is in disarray with leaking sewage. For electricity, residents have had to connect illegally. They’ve installed water taps themselves. Resident children run in the street, playing close to a refuse dump, demonstrating the need for recreational facilities in the area. A place which was supposed to be a community hall at the hostel has since been illegally occupied and turned into a squatter camp as peoples’ patience ran thin due to the delay in the delivery of houses.

“We’ve connected our own water and electricity because we had no other choice. We’ve been waiting on the government for too long. As for the toilets, during the day it’s not a problem but at night, it is a serious problem as you have to walk to 6th avenue to relieve yourself. Really when we vote, we need to vote for new leaders, the current ones have failed people,” says Nomvula Hlelo, one of the residents of Nobuhle who also wishes after the 1st of November election that there be more job opportunities for young women like her.

Another resident, a young mother, Mbali Twala who has just finished her matric and is looking for any job, indicated the leak in her roof and says it’s a nightmare during heavy rains. She says unlike before, she is now very clear where her vote will go. “My vote should go to a party that I believe will change the current situation faced by the residents of Nobuhle. I think they deserve better and should not continue living like this,” she says.

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Resident showing leaking roof in Nobuhle hostel.

Bongani Sibiya, also a resident of the hostel says after he was hard hit by Covid-19 which cost him his job, he decided to open himself a mini spaza shop. It is a decision he says he doesn’t regret.  “Had this idea never struck me, God knows maybe I would have turned into a criminal as that is an easy way out of poverty for many of my peers around here. Yes, things are not okay at Nobuhle hostel, but I believe they can’t remain like this forever, especially if people can vote for the right party,” he says.

Current Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Housing in the City of Johannesburg, Mlungisi Mabaso emphasised in various media interviews that hostels and informal settlements in the City remain an integral and core mandate of his department. The project to upgrade informal settlements and the temporary relocation arrangements that came as a result of Covid will continue. Although the temporary arrangements were marred by corruption that saw the project halted for a lengthy time, the MMC reassured residents that the project has since resumed, and will be completed.

Sanny Movhona who is the current councillor in the ward could not be reached after numerous attempts.

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