Living in a shed the size of a toilet for 14 years

Patrick Brewer says he has been living in his tiny shed for 14 years. Picture by Ntombi Ngubane

Ntombi Ngubane

10 July 2015

Forty-three year old Patrick Brewer from Henley in Pietermaritzburg has been living in a tiny shed the size of a toilet for 14 years.

His shelter is close to busy Selby Msimang Road in Edendale.

He has epilepsy and high blood pressure but does not receive a social grant. He lives from piece work, when he can get it, at R30 a day,which he uses to buy maize meal to make pap before he takes his medication.

He says numerous attempts to get a low cost house and a social pension have not succeeded.

Brewer says he was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was very young.

“My mother passed on in 1983 and after that life was different. I can’t do strenuous jobs due to my sickly condition. I only do light piece jobs such as helping in the yard or cutting grass. By doing those jobs I am able to buy maize meal and stock cubes of soup.”

He says he started living in his small house in 2001.

“I sleep on the floor using a blanket I was given by someone I was working for a long time ago. I wear a jersey and a big coat when I go to sleep. That prevents me from getting cold from the wind from the outside,” he said.

Asked how he sleeps in such a small room, he says: “I am not that tall and this has been my home for 14 years. I have given up hope about getting a house.”

“Life is not easy; I have become a victim of criminals. They sometimes break in and steal whatever they can sell. I don’t even have valuable items that people can take but they do break in. As much as I am used to having no house and sometimes going to bed without food, I still value my life and I’m scared,” says Brewer.

When GroundUp visited the house, a small pot was on fire. He was preparing lunch before taking his medication.

“I am used into eating uphuthu (coarse pap) mixed with soup. I boil water, add a cube of soup and maize meal and eat. This is my everyday meal, it is my own recipe. It has been years since I ate rice or meat.”

He has no relatives or children. “Family is the least of my problems,” he says.

Ward 12 councilor Sboniso Majola said he became aware of Brewer’s case a month ago.

“He came to me asking if I could offer him a job and mentioned that he has a problem with his ID. I told him to sort that out and come back so that I can see what I can do. I will attend to his matter and see where I can assist and how,” he said.