The forgotten pensioners of Etete

Moypathie Jagganath (77) and Kamla Bagelloo (76) at their home that is on the verge of collapsing. Photo: Erica Abrahams.

A cold, dark tin shack covered in mould with buckets and newspaper scattered over damp concrete floors.

This is what three pensioners from Etete have called home for more than 30 years.

With no other option for shelter, James Jabren (71), Moypathie Jagganath (77) and Kamla Bagelloo (76) are forced to spend most of their old age grant maintaining shacks which have rusted over time and are on the verge of totally falling apart.

Living without electricity has forced the three to cut wood and cook outside.

On rainy days they often go hungry.

The pensioners cook on an outside fire due to them not having electricity.

Jagganath said they had applied for RDP houses two years ago but that they have not heard anything since.

“Our doors were marked with numbers and we were told that our cases would be marked as urgent. We have heard nothing since they were here. It seems like we are forgotten.”

The roofs of their homes have collapsed many times and when it rains, the three are forced to sleep on soaked beds covered in plastic.

Their kitchen and what little appliances they have are covered in mould.

“It is a nightmare for us during winter. This place gets so cold and there is one tap outside that we all share. The self-made toilet and bathroom are built outside.

“We do not have electricity so we have to build a fire outside to cook our food. It is hard to chop wood because sometimes we feel too weak. We have lost hope of ever getting a decent shelter and we will probably die in this place.”

The Etete pensioners are forced to sleep on soaked beds.

KDM media liaison officer Sipho Mkhiza said RDP houses for two of the residents have been approved for the Etete Phase 4 project.

Phase one of the housing project has not yet started.

“I can confirm that Moypathee Jagganath and Kamla Bagelloo have applied for housing, and were subsequently approved.

“They have been allocated sites on the Etete Phase 4 project, that is yet to be implemented. We have not found any record of James Jabren on applications made for housing.

“I ask that Moypathee Jagganath and Kamla Bagelloo remain in constant contact with our housing unit for clarity regarding the status of their respective applications.

“In the case of James Jabren, I recommend that he contact his councillor, so that he can be profiled and advised accordingly.”

According to KDM knowledge and communications officer Sphelelo Ngobese, the delay in housing projects in Etete is due to it not having been approved by the MEC for Human Settlements.

The ceiling in one of the shacks is about to collapse.

However, roads are currently being constructed.

“It is KDM’s mandate to build roads and we do not need to get provincial approval for that. When it comes to housing structures, we have to wait for approval before we can begin.

“When it comes to allocation of houses in Etete the criteria are based on a study and the results have determined that the beneficiaries would be the oldest residents of Etete.

“While government’s prime criteria normally support elderly citizens and females, that does not necessarily mean that new individuals who meet the criteria would be direct beneficiaries of the project.”

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Erica Abrahams

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