Large parts of the area still have asbestos roofs. Residents say promises of eradicating the dangerous substance from their lives have so far been unfulfilled.
Newtown residents at risk due to asbestos exposure:
64-year-old Dickson Velisile was born in Newtown. He says since becoming aware of the dangers of asbestos, he’s been trying to get the government to replace the roof.
Velisile says he and other residents from the area have developed a constant cough. “I have been staying long enough from 1965 till now. And about this asbestos, I feel very sad because it is making us sick. I’m 64 years now and I am still coughing every night.”
Abel Ngwato and Paulos Kampfer have also called on the government to fulfill their promises.
“Asbestos is making us very sick. We have been talking to the council to remove it but still, we are asking it to remove it. It makes us sick that is why we don’t want it. That is the problem. We want houses, proper houses.”
Northern Cape Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlement HOD, Bafadile Lenkoe says close to 20 000 homes across the province still have asbestos roofing and there is a plan to remove them.
“Indeed the challenge that we have in the country of asbestos. the northern cape is not immune to that challenge. Hence, we are busy as the province there is the assessment report available that says there are 20 000 houses with asbestos roofs. We are going to make sure we verify we validate once more to ensure that figure is correct is properly calculated. our wish is to make sure we eradicate asbestos roofs in the Northern Cape.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa has received the fourth instalment of the report into State Capture. The Free State asbestos saga – which resulted in businessman Edwin Sodi and former Free State Premier and now-suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule facing corruption charges of more than R200-million – is part of the report.