Four City families wave hostel life goodbye
Four families living in poor conditions in the Orlando West Women’s Hotel, Soweto, started a new life yesterday, Monday May 4, when they moved into subsidised modern rental housing units after receiving the keys to their new homes from Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing Councillor Dan Bovu.
The new homes are part of the City of Johannesburg’s multimillion rand Soweto Hostel Redevelopment and Upgrading Programme, undertaken in line with its Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040).
The GDS 2040, among other priorities, seeks to enhance social cohesion and create integrated communities.
MMC Bovu said yesterday’s handover represented the beginning of the end of squalid hostel accommodation designed by the apartheid government. Members of the four families were ecstatic as they surveyed their sparkling new homes, part of the first phase of the programme involving the redevelopment of 84 housing units. Each unit boasts three rooms, a kitchen sink, an electric stove and a bathroom-cum-toilet.
Brandishing her new house keys, 32-year-old mother of two Molly Molefe said she was elated at having “such a decent place” at last. For Thembekani Dubazana, 27, also a single mother of two, the day will forever remain etched in her memory.
“I feel I’ve just come of age. I can’t believe that I now have a place of my own. Yo! I am so happy,” she said.
Equally elated was Mthuthuzeli Kakaza, 33, who was relieved that his wife and son would now have a place they could their own home. “I was tired of renting rooms in other people's homes. I'm relieved I have a place of my own now,” he said.
Excellent Segalelane, 36, said he could not wait to spend his first night in his own “pozzie”.
The family man with two children said it felt as though he was dreaming, adding that he was determined to make the new house a home. “This is a start of great things,” he said.
The Orlando West Women’s Hostel was built in the 1970s to accommodate workers, mostly from the so-called homelands.
They had over time become dilapidated and inhabitable as a result of vandalism, ageing infrastructure and the lack of proper maintenance. MMC Bovu asked residents who attended yesterday’s handover ceremony to be patient and continue to work with the City as it moved with speed to complete the redevelopment of a total of 200 units.
Hostel induna Sbusiso Khuzwayo said it was through working together and shelving political affiliations that had led to the success of the upgrading and redevelopment of the hostel. He praised all the stakeholders involved in the project. The hostel reconstruction project is a joint initiative of the City and the Gauteng Provincial Department of Human Settlements.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, a similar handover ceremony, at the Diepkloof Men’s Hostel – which was supposed to be led by Executive Mayor Clr Parks Tau – was cancelled at the last minute.