Thousands left homeless in Gauteng due to COVID-19 pandemic

Thousands left homeless in Gauteng due to COVID-19 pandemic

Almost 50 000 people in Gauteng have been left with no place to call home since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This 74-year-old granny has found herself living in a vehicle since December after she was unable to afford her monthly rental.

Homelessness was a struggle for many at the beginning of the pandemic. The Gauteng province estimated that 50 000 people were without a safe dwelling and amongst those – the elderly and frail.

A spokesperson for Collen Mashawana Foundation says, “The reality is that there are many elderly people in our communities who don’t have access to safe homes. Some are due to not having family members to assist them or being on their own and struggle to secure a home some are staying in dilapidated shacks, some staying in houses falling apart and some staying cars like we saw today.”

In Orange Farm, this grandmother found herself left with nowhere but in a vehicle she calls home. Grandmother Glory Ngqolwana says she has been homeless since December.

“From 17 December, I moved here when I couldn’t afford my rent anymore. I had to leave without most of my belongings. Been staying here – in this yard. I sleep outside on this mat and when it rains I sleep in the car the people in this house have helped me with food and groceries. I cook outside here as well.”

Despite applying for a home at the dawn of democracy, she’s still waiting.

Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu says the application is 20-years-old.

“She’s been on the list she applied for an RDP house 20-years-ago and that’s what we need to investigate; what happened to that application.”

Gogo is not alone and Social Development is concerned that the current government grants are not sufficient for the elderly with no additional support.

Minister Zulu further explains, “It’s not only her. There’s also an old lady here that’s renting a room for R600. This amount worries us as social dev as we pay social grants and this is supposed to assist them to buy food and toiletries and stuff but they end up having to spend a lot of that on rental. We are here because we have to take action.”

The department, along with Collen Mashawana Foundation, is planning to build a temporary structure for Gogo Ngqolwana while a permanent home is being built for her.

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