Man with disability has waited 11 years for temporary accommodation.

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Councillor says temporary housing was given to people who did not need it.

Photo of a couple
Phuthumile Bokana and his wife, Nothozamile Rulwana, have been living since 2001 in a cold, leaking, two-roomed shack. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

An Eastern Cape man, who has cognitive disabilities, has been waiting since 2008 for the temporary house he says he was promised.

In 2008, Phuthumile Bokana, from Cambridge informal settlement in East London, applied for an RDP house. Because Bokana has intellectual disabilities, officials at the municipal housing department promised to arrange temporary housing in the meantime, according to his wife Nothozamile Rulwana.

Rulwana said they welcomed the news, thinking they were going to get the temporary shelter within a few months. But months have become years, with no sign of either an RDP house or temporary accommodation.

Rulwana said when she went back to the municipal offices she was told to wait. They have now been waiting for 11 years.

Meanwhile the couple live in a two-roomed shack with their three children. The nearest toilet is a kilometre away. Bokana struggles without assistance to use the bucket in the house when Rulwana is at work.

“The toilets are very far. I cannot go there,” Bokana told GroundUp in a shaky voice.

“When we were promised a temporary house, I was very happy, because I was told that it was going to have a toilet,” said Rulwana.

The shack is cold and rain comes inside. “I try to make this shack a better place with the little money we have,” said Rulwana.

The family depends on a monthly R1,700 disability grant and R430 child support grant. Rulwana earns R200 a week, working two days.

The family used to live in Potsdam outside Mdantsane, but moved to Cambridge in 2001 to be nearer to Frere Hospital where Bokana is treated. From Potsdam a trip to the hospital cost R500; from Cambridge, only R50.

Cambridge ward councillor Rogers Relu said, “It is so unfortunate that there’s nothing I can do regarding this matter because we do not have any more temporary houses.”

Temporary housing had been given to people who did not need it, he said.

Community leader Lawrance Jiba, who was a ward councillor when Bokana applied for a house, said he is aware of the family’s predicament. He confirmed that there was no more temporary accommodation.

“As community leaders we are doing our best to find better places for people like Bokana,” he said. “We have a plan to find open land so we can negotiate with the municipality to build sites for disabled and old people of Cambridge, but people need to be more patient.”

Eastern Cape Human Settlement spokesperson Phiwokuhle Soga said Bokana did not appear on the system.

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality spokesperson Bathandwa Diamond did not respond to GroundUp despite repeated attempts to get comment over five weeks.

Article originally written and published by GroundUp