Deputy Minister's emotional house handover

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cape Town – When Human Settlements Deputy Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks arrived at Nyanga East township in Cape Town to hand over a house to 74-year-old Egnas Dyidi, the pensioner – who is bedridden due to an illness – she took out her handkerchief and sobbed uncontrollably.

The Deputy Minister had gone to the area to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Women’s Charter and the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings against pass laws. 

An excited Dyidi later wiped the tears off her eyes, smiled and said she was grateful that the Deputy Minister, along with several government departments, had come together to help change her life for the better.

Asked how she felt about being given a newly-built house, a speechless Dyidi could only tell SAnews that she was “very happy”.

The Deputy Minister first visited Dyidi a few months ago after it was brought to her attention that the elderly woman, who lives with her six-year-old great grandson Avethandwa Dyidi, was stuck in her dilapidated house for a decade due to illness.

Avethandwa was assisted by neighbours to look after his great grandmother.

In an interview with SAnews shortly after handing over the house to Dyidi, Deputy Minister Kota-Fredericks said she decided to intervene after she was touched by the story of the sickly woman.

“I am very excited about today, handing over a house to mam’ uDyidi, who has been in her house for 10 years, not able to be seen by a doctor because she was too big to get out of that house.

“We were able to demolish that house to re-build this house. So it is an exciting moment,” she said.

For years, Dyidi was unable to get adequate medical attention due to the fact that she was stuck in her house.

To make matters worse, she could not re-register to receive her social grant after the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) invited pensioners to present themselves for re-registration earlier this year.

This left Didyi without an income for up to four months.

Upon hearing about the sad story of Dyidi a few months ago, the Deputy Minister said she asked the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), an entity of her department, to head a project of finding sponsors to build a new home for the pensioner.

The Deputy Minister also said other departments came on board to assist. Social Development helped Dyidi with her pension registration, while the Department of Health availed health workers to attend to her illness. 

Delekile Klaas, a regional Commissioner for Correctional Services in the Western Cape, said prison inmates, as part of an offender rehabilitation programme, designed and built a new bed for Dyidi and also made furniture for her new 60 square meters two bedroom house.

The Deputy Minister said the house was built with alternative technology, which makes the house heat up during winter and cool down during summer.

“This house is beautiful. I am excited to do something of this magnitude during Women’s Month to ensure that women who find themselves vulnerable, who are destitute, are being helped by government in this fashion,” she said. –