Waiting beside the railway line for ten years

Camperdown residents say houses promised for a decade

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Photo of shacks
Residents of Camperdown informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg live in homes beside an active railway line. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Camperdown informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg has homes built a few metres away from an active railway line. The settlement has about 80 households (counted by satellite imagery) and two communal taps. There are no toilets; people use the bushes or the railway line area.

Resident Sbonelo Zwane says she worries about the children wandering near the railway. “We are always on the alert,” said Zwane.

Ntombizodwa Ngwane, who is a domestic worker and has been living in Camperdown for 13 years, said that earlier in February a man was killed by a train. It was at night and he was returning home from work. In December, a man was also hit by a train. He was badly hurt, but survived, said Ngwane.

Residents said they have been waiting for formal houses for over ten years.

Ngwane said, “Last year regional members of the ANC visited us. They told us that a housing project is in the pipeline. They used big words, telling us about surveyors. Each and every year they do the same thing. They come, make promises, and never come back. We are tired.”

In August 2017, ward councillor Kwazikwakhe Mkhize was shot dead. A by-election is scheduled for 4 April. Resident Nomfundo Mpanza says there is a ward committee, but it is inactive.

“They [politicians] know we are desperate. For a better life we go all out when it’s time to vote. We get nothing in return. It’s only empty promises,” said Mpanza.

Umkhambathini Municipality has not responded to questions from GroundUp despite repeated attempts over a period of three weeks. On Wednesday last week, an email response stated: “Unfortunately the municipal manager has not responded.”

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TOPICS:  Housing

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