Steven Tau
2 minute read
20 Feb 2017
7:30 am

‘I’ll die before I get a home,’ says 100-year-old granny

Steven Tau

Selina Mahlasela has to walk for about 2km to fetch drinking water. She has been waiting for an RDP house since 1997.

Selina Mahlasela lives in a shack near Tshepiso in Sharpeville. She has been waiting for a RDP house since 1997. Mahlasela has no running water and electricity. She has to walk to her neighbours to make use of their pit toilet every day. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

A 100-year-old grandmother from Sharpeville who is living in squalor has given up all hope of receiving a RDP house of her own after being on the Gauteng department of human settlements’ housing waiting list for 20 years.

In less than eight months, Selina Mahlasela will be turning 101 years old. A destitute Mahlasela still lives in a shack with no running water and electricity. She is forced to walk to one of her neighbours’ homes to make use of their pit toilet.

Mahlasela told The Citizen she first applied for a RDP house in 1997. When nothing happened, she again applied early in the 21st century, in the desperate hope of receiving a home. Speaking from her three-roomed shack near Tshepiso in Sharpeville, south of Johannesburg, Mahlasela said that, as the years have ticked by, she could barely remember her age any more.

“I have been waiting to hear from local government ever since I applied for an RDP house many years ago. They told me not to worry and to just relax as they would come to my place to tell me when I’ll be getting my house … I don’t even know where the local government offices are.”

Mahlasela said one of the most degrading things about not having her own home was not having a toilet.

“Whenever I need to make use of one, I am forced to walk to one of my neighbours to use their pit toilet. My life has been extremely difficult here,” she said.

Aside from not having a toilet and electricity, Mahlasela has to walk for about 1km to fetch fresh drinking water and water she can use to wash herself and for other household chores. The 2km round trip to fetch fresh water involves carrying a 25-litre container.

Her daughter, Ntsekiseng, said that while she successfully applied for an RDP house, she is becoming increasingly worried about her mother. According to Ntsekiseng, her mother applied for and was promised help by local government officials to get a house, but nothing materialised.

“Up until today, they are still coming to assist my mother. It would appear that there has been a lot of fraud involved in this whole mess,” Ntsekiseng said. Mahlasela and her family moved into the area back in 1991.

“The way things are going, I might be dead before I get a house,” said Mahlasela.

Gauteng department of human settlements spokesperson Mogomotsi Mogodiri was shocked to learn about Mahlasela’s plight. He vowed that the department would look into the matter. While almost a million houses have been allocated to beneficiaries, the Gauteng housing backlog is said to be 400 000.