Struggle for dignity in Hout Bay’s informal settlements

Hout Bay informal settlement resident Princess Masengelele, 60, outside her shack. Picture: Refilwe Hlatshwayo/IOL

Hout Bay informal settlement resident Princess Masengelele, 60, outside her shack. Picture: Refilwe Hlatshwayo/IOL

Published Apr 2, 2024


By Refilwe Hlatshwayo

As political parties saturate communities across the country with promises to improve lives, for 60-year-old Princess Masengelele, these promises are meaningless.

Masengelele told IOL that she is tired of the empty promises despite voting in previous elections.

She said: “Since 1991 I have been here in Cape Town living in this shack and nothing has changed since then, I have been changing shacks and what makes me angry the most is that I am renting this place and I don’t have any income to pay for this place.

“I have been voting for many years but there’s no difference, so voting for any party is useless now because they will keep on lying to us and promising us nothing. The most painful is that I have arthritis and I have to live in a shack whether it’s cold or not, I have been in different hospitals fighting for my life and also have to fight for the house which I don’t know when how long I will fight.

“I stopped voting because of lies and manipulation of political parties, I feel pain to just leave the ANC just like that because of what they have promised us.”

Another resident, 65-year-old Nombulelo Nkulule, who lives in a one-room shack with her five children, including a disabled son, also lamented the empty promises.

“I live here with my five kids and I am renting this one room since my house was burnt down. Government promised to build us a house since 2004. Until now there’s nothing. They told us to go to the Department of Housing to check how far our housing process was but there was nothing. They gave young kids houses. For how long we should wait for one thing, they keep on promising us the same thing over and over especially when it is time for elections.

“I had to find a job to pay the rent and look after my family here and back at home but now I am not working anymore. I am a pensioner, and pension money is not enough to live and the condition of where we stay is not good because we live with a disabled child.

The special needs of her disabled child has placed additional demands on her but promises by social workers to assist bore no results said Nkulule.

“He does not have a place to sleep or to exercise since the hospital told us to let him exercise so his muscles can get used to it, going outside is not safe. We even went to social workers for help and they also promised to come to check his condition but they never pitched. Voting for any party is not going to make any difference as our situation has not changed” she said.