A Rugby family have accused provincial housing authorities of ignoring their plight after a fire destroyed their home last year.
It has been almost been a year since the Coetzee family lost most of their belongings in a fire that gutted the three-bedroom flat they rented from the Department of Human Settlements.
The family have been staying in two Wendy houses next to the fire-damaged property.
The fire started in a neighbour’s flat on March 31 when a TV exploded. It then spread to the Coetzee’s flat. The family were not at home at the time (“Rugby family left in the lurch,” Tabletalk, May 16, 2018).
Marius and Rachel Coetzee said that besides fixing the water pipes in the flat so they could at least bath, the department had done nothing else but feed them empty promises. “Since the last time we spoke to Tabletalk, the department has failed us at every turn. On the 20th of November last year, housing officials, along with four or five contractors, came to assess the damages and quote for costs. That gave us hope because we thought finally something would be done after months of living in the wendy houses outside,” said Mr Coetzee.
Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, the spokeswoman for Human Settlements MEC Bongikosi Madikizela, said the department had kept in contact with the family. That had included phone calls and meetings held at both the department’s office and at the property in Pixie Road to keep its tenants informed about the “challenges” it was facing with the repairs.
The department had been trying to find a contractor since May last year, but most of those who had quoted for the job had not met departmental procurement requirements.
The department now planned to include the repairs in a larger renovation project planned for its properties from the end of February, she said.
The Coetzee’s said their main concern was getting their home fixed.
“I feel like they are trying to frustrate us even more and we will end up leaving the place. I think they are trying to push us out of here so that they can get new tenants and make them pay whatever amounts of money they want,” Mr Coetzee said.
“They know we are pensioners, and we have been living in this place for 17 years now. They don’t care about us.”
Ms Coetzee said she and her husband were in poor health and her daughter had given birth five months ago. The baby girl is living with her mother in one of the wendy houses while Ms Coetzee and her husband stay in the other.
“I’m a diabetic and my husband has heart issues. My eldest daughter, Natasha developed kidney problems during this whole time she was pregnant. I am tired of all of this because we are being given false hope at every turn.
“On November 20, when the officials came to do the inspection, we were told by one of them that we could expect to be back in our place by Christmas. Well, Christmas has come and past now,” she said.
Natasha said her baby had been premature had spent the first month of her life in hospital. “Our living conditions are very bad, and I have to go back to work soon, so I am worried right now. It looks like we are going to spend another winter living in the Wendy house out front. This issue should have been treated as an emergency case, but now we are heading for another year in these conditions,” she said.