Minister undertakes to have total of 189 ready at Walmer Q by end of month
AN elderly couple from Port Elizabeth’s Walmer township, who had lived in a shack for 50 years, were among the recipients of new houses from Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu yesterday.
Sisulu and Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan launched the Walmer Q human settlements project which will see a total of 189 houses handed over to beneficiaries at the end of the month.
Sisulu also handed over the first of 491 houses in Chatty earmarked for military veterans to Shadrack Merile, 60.
In Walmer, Tomi Jantjies, 86, and his wife Maria, 82, said they were excited to finally own their own house.
“It has always been a dream to provide a proper home for our grandchildren because we could not do that for our children,” Tomi said. “In the 50 years of staying in a shack I never thought one day I would move to a beautiful, well-furnished house.
“The two-bedroom house with a lounge and a kitchen is fully furnished. For the first time tonight we’ll relax our old bones in a comfortable new bed.”
The other two beneficiaries were Xolile Tulman, 43, and Nontuthuzelo Sinah, 70.
Earlier this year, Walmer township was rocked by violent service-delivery protests.
Sisulu appealed to contractors building the rest of the houses to meet the deadline.
“You are expected to work around the clock to ensure every deserving Walmer citizen has a shelter by the end of 2015,” Sisulu said.
“Your mandate is housing delivery and nothing else. Christmas is postponed until you finish. Our people have been waiting for far too long.
“Involve them in the construction of their houses. Let them also get jobs and skills.
“Today we are here to give over houses in Walmer and it was particularly chosen because almost as soon as the intervention was announced, Walmer was a hotspot,” she said.
Earlier this year, Sisulu’s office intervened to help jack up the metro’s chaotic human settlements department.
Officials from her department were sent to strengthen administration capacity.
“What we have decided to do is prioritise Walmer informal settlement. I have been told by my team that we now have 70 houses at roof-top level and 30 at various levels of development,” Sisulu said.
She would return on December 29 to give over the rest of the 189 houses in Walmer.
“I have said to my officials, they should start writing their resignation letter today, so that if I am not able to give over the last house of 189 they should leave and look for other jobs somewhere else.
“This is because we are not going to be reading about Walmer being a hotspot ever again. We are here to intervene and make sure we can provide you with a better life.”
Sisulu also said they would fast-track the identification of housing beneficiaries.
She apologised to contractors who had not been paid and said they would be paid by Friday.
Jordaan said it had been wonderful to see the elderly people moving from a shack to a new house.
“I could see the restoration of their dignity and it is a dream come true for them,” he said.
“We hired a task team to work and transform the lives of the Walmer people.
“Before the end of this year many more of you will have the keys to your houses.”