Two conflicting views on the Housing situation.........

The view of mail /guardian writer Pearlie Joubert somehow contrasts with the view of Velisa Maku...
From my own travels into the Eastern Cape I can however confirm:
  • The AmaXhosa do traditionally live in houses
  • The AmaXhosa do grow food, plenty even...

    We have lost our values
    I eat with robbed money" (February 16) made me very angry. By thinking that government should solve all our problems, we have lost our values.

    Our parents struggled, but gave us values. They worked hard to put food on the table and to educate us so that we could be better off than them.

    Like Nomsa and an estimated half a million other people who live in Enkanini, I also moved from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape. I live in Guguletu and work for my money; I would never steal for food.

    A moral lesson I learned from my community back home was that I will never live in a shack. There, houses were built of clay bricks that were made with our own hands. My parents’ house has been standing since the early 1960s.

    How can anyone live in a shack because government is not building RDP houses fast enough?

    If I lose my job, I will go back home, where there is no shortage of food. We grew up eating from our gardens, which is hard work. Food parcels or basic income grants from government are the easy way out.

    Hard work is a value we were taught, and laziness was punished. I recently went home and saw that there was no garden that was not planted. Spinach, potatoes, pumpkins and mealies are the norm.

    In rural areas, single families have so much space. Why do people choose to live in Enkanini, which is so crowded?

    I was educated by my fathers cows: every January my father would sell a cow or two to have enough money to send eight children to school. Any rural person will tell you how hard it is to look after these animals.

    Those who stayed at school, even when it was difficult, can now see democracy is delivering to them.

    To Nomsa and all other parents who encourage our youth to commit crime in the name of poverty: I beg you to go back home. Use the values our parents taught us, so that along with government, which is giving much more than past governments gave our parents, we can help reduce crime and poverty.

    Teach your children that nothing comes easily in life, and that if it does, they will not value it. That is why most people sell their RDP houses and live in shacks. -- Velisa Maku, Woodstock, Cape Town

    'I eat with robbed money'
    Pearlie Joubert
    09 February 2007 11:59
    Patrick Magadla inside his spaza shop. (Photograph: David Harrison)
    “You whites will never understand anything about living in the sand in a hok big enough for a dog. And you will never understand crime. What’s crime? Am I a criminal because I eat with robbed money? I don’t want to know how my two sons earn the R20, R30 or R100 they bring home most evenings. Of course they’ve stolen it; or maybe they’ve mugged somebody; maybe somebody was stabbed with a knife or screwdriver. Maybe somebody is dead now and their money paid for my pap tonight.”

    Nomsa is 40 years old. She looks older than 50 and she and her four children live in a shack the size of a single garage. (Nomsa is not her real name and she didnt want pictures taken of her, her kids or their shack.) Her two boys are 15 and 17 years old. Sullen or shy -- a white wouldnt know. The younger ones are snot-nosed toddlers.

    Nomsa and an estimated half a million other people live in Enkanini, which means by force in Xhosa. Part of Khayelitsha, Enkanini is sprawled across kilometres of sand dunes from the Cape Flats to Monwabisi beach in False Bay. Because of massive overcrowding in Nyanga, Guguletu and Emfuleni, backyarders -- people who rent and squat in backyard-shacks -- moved on to these bush-covered sand dunes shortly before the April 2004 general election.

    Initially the council tried to stop the influx, but when the people threatened not to vote, local councillors backed down. Three years later the council has tarred one or two roads and supplied communal taps and mobile toilets along the main tar road. But there is still no electricity. Enkanini is on no map and no roads signs point to this area, which is home mainly to hundreds of thousands of Xhosa-speaking people from the Eastern Cape.

    Nameless streets criss-cross the sand dunes, which are covered in wooden or plastic shacks. Once youre off the tar road, its almost impossible to drive a car on the loose sand. Theres not a single tree here. Some people live more than an hours walk away from a toilet and use the bushes around their homes instead.

    Residents say they survive on crime, adding that only about 5% of people living in Enkanini are formally employed. “I know a lot of people who do crime. They sell alcohol and cigarettes, they buy stolen cellphones, theyre prostitutes, they have kids so that they can get the child grant. They send their children in the mornings and in the evenings to the taxi-ranks and train stations to mug and steal. Im not sure whether those things are wrong because how else will we eat? said 26-year-old Nandipa Sasa.

    Nandipa came here a year ago after she heard about land opening up in Cape Town. I left Umtata the next day and rushed here. In the Eastern Cape were told theres land in Cape Town and everybody runs here because, once you have a place to put up a shack, you can start looking for a job. I worked for six months in a sandwich shop earning R1 200 per month and managed to build myself this two-room shack. Since the shop closed down five months ago, Ive been to every shop, café and restaurant from Wynberg to Sea Point -- theres no work.”

    Nandipa gets fed by a friend who receives the R190-a-month child grant. This R190 feeds two adults and three children. “We eat once a day. If theres no money to go to town looking for work, we play with the babies. Its better to be hungry here than in the Eastern Cape -- at least here I can eat once a day,” Nandipa said.

    Crime in Enkanini is rampant, says Nandipa: “Ive been mugged at gunpoint three times; at night skollies have kicked down my shack’s door twice. I don’t know anybody living here who has not been robbed or mugged or raped or shot or stabbed. But its my home.”

    Other residents describe Enkanini as a particularly lawless place, where the absence of the police means that anything goes. “This place is worse than other places because the criminals here arent scared. They know the cops can’t get to them because there are no roads. People don’t have phones. At night you see nothing because its so dark,” says Beauty, a 24-year-old mother of two small children who lives in a shack on her own. The father of her children has “disappeared with another woman, but luckily left us with the one-room shack,Beauty says.

    “The men here are bad to women. You always get robbed with guns. They dont say ‘give me your phone or your purse. They make you squat down and then they stick their fingers into your vagina to feel whether youre hiding your money there. They hurt you and nobody helps you because they have guns,” she said.

    Baden-Powell Drive is the beautiful road that links Muizenberg to the N2 and brings those with cars and money to this otherwise inaccessible area. “I come to Baden-Powell or the beach twice a week to have sex or suck men -- I only do three men a day. They pay me R100 and if they want me to suck them without a condom, I charge R150,” says Jennifer (not her real name).

    Jennifer claims that she is 18 years old -- her friends, who earn money the same way, say she is 14. She hangs around Monwabisi beach with her little brother who acts as her chaperone or substitute. If the white male customers prefer young boys, her brother stands in for her.

    “I came here last year for the first time. The men are white. The first time I was very scared because you have to get into this man’s car and they drive off with you to places among bushes that I don’t know. I’ve only been to Enkanini and Harare [part of Khayelitsha]. Then you have sex in the car or you give them blowjobs or they want to do funny stuff with you. Afterwards you don’t know if they will take you back or leave you somewhere,” says Jennifer.

    Jennifer and her brother live with their aunt. Their mother died of Aids and they don’t know where their father is. “My aunty don’t ask me how I get money; how I can buy white shorts and nice sandals. I buy bread and pap and meat for the house and she says I’m a good child. My brother still goes to school sometimes, but I don’t. If we go to school, we’re hungry all the time and it’s better not to be hungry.”

    'A dangerous place to work'
    “It’s a hell of a place to work because we can’t do ordinary policing. We can’t drive around and patrol because there are no roads; our vehicles get stuck in the sand; at night you can’t see your hand in front of your eyes because it’s so dark. People don’t have addresses, but have guns; it takes a long time to respond to calls and people move in and out all the time. Criminals hide among the community and nobody knows that they’re there,” says Senior Superintendent Pumzile Cetyana, the man charged with policing Enkanini.

    “When the cops in the Western Cape are looking for murderers or rapists, chances are that they’re hiding here in Enkanini. Overnight people move in, clear some bushes and put up a shack. Nobody asks them who they are or where they’re from. By the time our intelligence people and community informers tell us where they’re staying, they’re gone. They simply move the shack a couple of metres away on to another dune and we wouldn’t find them.”

    Enkanini made it into the newspapers for the first time because of crime -- two years ago four people were beaten to death and set alight after irate residents caught them stealing, raping and mugging.

    Recently a Swiss citizen was found murdered and stuffed into a suitcase on a sandy road in Enkanini. Although the police are not allowed to release any official statistics, they reckon that somebody is murdered in Enkanini every two to three weeks. Domestic violence and contact crimes such as assault are the most frequently reported crimes here.

    Despite overwhelming anecdotal evidence to the contrary, Cetyana and his cops are adamant that crime in Enkanini is declining. “We’re winning this crime war because we’re spending a lot of time just getting the community to trust us and report crime to us. We’ve received quad-bikes to patrol the area and it’s already making a big difference.”

    Pretty Burger, who lives with her four children in Enkanini and survives on the child grants, says that she knows nobody who reports crime. “If somebody reports a crime, they have to meet the police on the tar-road and then take the police to the scene of the crime. People are scared to phone the cops because they’re seen arriving with the cops. Who wants to be an impimpi [informer]?”

    Cetyana’s cops do foot patrols through thick beach sand in groups of four, wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying heavy artillery weapons. “It’s a dangerous place to work,” Cetyana says.