Jabulani residents open door to new life

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Soweto - Having lived in a hostel since 1968, Edmond Ngwenya never believed that the "face of hostels" would change in his lifetime.

But what the 66-year-old thought would not be possible has become a reality, thanks to a R487 million project in Jabulani, Soweto.

Launched on Thursday, the Jabulani Housing Project will see 1 919 community residential and RDP units completed over the next few years.

Built on the site of the current hostels, which will be demolished over time, the new units will provide a more family-oriented environment for hostel dwellers and other income groups.

Bulk infrastructure services will be completed by the end of April, with occupation expected at the end of May.

"I'm very happy. I'm overflowing with joy," said Ngwenya, who will be among those to move into the units once the finishing touches have been completed.

He described the living conditions in hostels as difficult, even unbearable at times. The communal set-up allowed for little privacy and was not a good environment to raise a family, Ngwenya added.
The new unit will finally give Ngwenya's family a home.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said the project would provide hope and dignity.

He said it was an integrated project that would bring people together, adding that it was unacceptable to have the poorest of the poor on one side of the railway line and those who fell into a different category, elsewhere.

"What we are seeing is a new attempt, a new vision, a new strategy to put our people together so that we negate what apartheid was doing."

He said the project was about changing the "ugly face" of the apartheid single-sex hostels into family units.

"Our job is not to provide just houses but homes. A home is an asset ... One day, people will be able to trade these things ... What we are seeing here is property development."

People who did not have an income, up to those who earned R3 500 a month, would benefit from the project.

It would also cater to the gap-market - people who earned too much to qualify for subsidy but too little to qualify for a bank loan.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the project was about "doing away with apartheid refugee camps".

"... We are creating a mixed human settlement property that is going to be for the benefit of various income groups," she said.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was also present at the project's launch.