Plan to rebuild pensioner’s home still in limbo

Nowandile Matolo, 65, says the City has still not made good on its promises to rebuild her state-subsidised home, which burnt down in 2019.

A Joe Slovo grandmother says she has given up all hope that the City will make good on its promises to rebuild her state-subsidised home, which burnt down in 2019.

Nowandile Matolo, a 65-year-old pensioner, says the City promised to rebuild her house by Friday July 1 but failed to do so.

This is not the first time she has accused the City of making empty promises. Last year, Tabletalk reported that she had been waiting patiently for her house to be rebuilt and that mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, had said there were funds for that to happen before June 2021, if all went according to plan (“Two years of empty promises, says fire victim,” Tabletalk, May 13, 2021).

However, in an email to Tabletalk on Monday July 26, Mr Booi denied that the City had made any promises to Ms Matolo to start rebuilding her house by Friday, July 1.

He said that the City had informed Ms Matolo that plans to help her had not been finalised.

“There is no set time frame for such applications as this is dependent on resources being made available,” he said.

But Matolo said she had given up hope that the City would help her.

Sitting on a plastic chair where her house once stood, tears filled her eyes as she said she was growing tired of hearing excuses from the City.

Ms Matolo now lives in a one-bedroom shack, on the property, with her five grandchildren. Her son, lives in a smaller shack on the property.

The family uses a small cement-brick room as a bathroom, which Ms Matolo said was part of the original house.

“When my house burnt down in 2019, we lost everything, and I have tried to use my pension money to build this shack and call it home,” said Ms Matolo.

She showed us the holes in her roof that had been plugged with the Tabletalk newspaper to keep the cold out.

“When it rains, we have to put down buckets so that our bed and appliances don’t get wet,” she said.

Ms Matolo said she had been sent from pillar to post to seek help.

Community leader Sibongile Kofi, who sent emails to the City on Ms Matolo’s behalf, said ward councillor Anthony Benadie had told him that materials were available but he couldn’t confirm when work would start.

“I will not let her give up, she was promised and she will get it,” he said.

“It’s unfair that Gogo has to go through this. She and her family are living in a shack during the cold and wet winter months, and the City doesn’t seem to care.”

Mr Benadie said there must have been a misunderstanding between Mr Kofi and Ms Matolo because he had told them that the rebuilding of the house would be budgeted for in the new financial year, which started on Friday July 1.

“At no stage did I share information with Mr Kofi that the house will be built on July 1. The funding, according to my knowledge, is available, and I await the final word from (the City) about when the building will commence. While I fully understand the urgency of the matter, there are unfortunately governance rules and regulations to be followed before the work can commence,” he said.