Sinking feeling in hostels

17 April 2015 - 02:08 By Penwell Dlamini

Johannesburg has a serious problem in providing housing in the country's economic hub. Hostels built by the apartheid government are falling apart.The city relocated 200 families living in the crumbling Diepkloof hostel, Soweto, to temporary shelters yesterday.Sinkholes have developed in parts of the hostel premises.The shelters have communal taps and toilets but are yet to be electrified.These evacuated families will be moved to new family units being built next to the hostel as soon as they are ready.But residents said the promise of relocation could not be trusted."This government is a liar. They are coming here because there are elections coming next year."We have been waiting for these houses since 2006."I will believe it when it happens on May4," said Bashise Dumakude, one of the residents moved.A member of Johannesburg's mayoral council, Dan Bovu, promised that the 84 families who are able to pay their rent will be moved into their new homes next month.Bovu told the hostel residents that the city was aware that a number of them were unemployed and would make special provision for them."At the moment we are responding to a disaster which might end up killing our people."We had to move people before electricity is supplied [to the new units] because their situation was becoming dangerous. These structures are a transit to a house," Bovu said.The hostels were originally designed to house 16 people in each unit with each occupant furnished only with a bed.The government has resolved to stop the use of hostels and develop "family dwelling units" instead.The last head count at Diepkloof hostel, in 2010, showed that it then accommodated 1800 people.Bovu said the Diepkloof hostel would be demolished and a new one designed with better access to transport.Other hostels in Soweto to be converted into family units include those in Meadowlands and Dube.

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