Former shack dweller Simangele Mhlongo no longer has to worry about her home being washed away by floods or destroyed by fire.
For the first time in her life Mhlongo has decent house that she can call home thanks to the Cornubia Human Settlement Project.
The eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu- Natal recently handed over homes to 154 families as part of the housing project.
Situated in Mount Edgecombe, north of Durban, the project is worth R25 billion and is set to house people from different parts of eThekwini, while adopting the human settlements approach of integrating people from all walks of life and building an environment with allows easy access to facilities.
The mixed-use project also includes an industrial area and retail services, schools, clinics and other public services.
The first batch of homes, allocated as part of Phase 1A of the project, cost R102 million. Mhlongo, who lived in an informal settlement at Phola Park, Phoenix, was one of those who received a home during this phase.
“The challenges that I faced at the informal settlement have been left behind and my life has completely transformed. I will not have to deal with flooding if it rains or the burning down of houses. Here, I have all the basic services like electricity and water in my new home with proper ablution facilities,” she said.
Mhlongo’s new home consists of two bedrooms, a lounge, a kitchen and ablution facilities - a far cry from the usual one-bedroom RDP starter homes.
With an industrial area under construction near the housing project, Mhlongo hopes for better employment opportunities.
eThekwini Municipality Mayor James Nxumalo said the municipality would ensure that homes were allocated to the right people.
“We want the new owners to treat these housing units as their homes, not as an informal settlement. We will ensure that the right people are allocated houses and monitor compliance. Thereafter, no one is allowed to sublet or sell the housing unit, as it belongs to the government," he stressed.
Various informal settlements including Blackburn, Stonebridge, Ridgeview and 13th Street in Clermont as well as transit camps, will be relocated as part of the first phase of the housing project.
Ridgeview informal settlement will be completely demolished and closed off, as all residents will be moved to Cornubia.
Construction of the next phase - 1B, which is expected to result in 2 186 housing units at a cost of about R560 million, is expected to start soon.
* Slindile Maluleka works for the eThekwini Municipality.
Since 1994 South Africa has seen a tremendous growth in the provision of homes.
Over the years government invested more than R100 billion to provide housing opportunities, ensuring that 12 million people now have a place to call home.
About 5 677 614 formal homes have been built over the past 20 years.
The number of people living in formal housing increased from 64 per cent in 1996 to 77.7 per cent in 2011.
The proportion of households living in informal dwellings decreased from 16.2 per cent in 1996 to 13.6 per cent in 2011.