Johannesburg – Three destitute Gauteng families moved into brand new furnished brick and mortar houses on Mandela Day, which were donated to them by AfriBiz Invest and the Collen Mashawana Foundation.
The three families have similar stories. They are families where the destitute elderly support their grandchildren, with the parents estranged from the families. They have been living in shacks for over two decades.
The organisations donated the houses to the three families, the Baleke and Nyatikazi families in Soshanguve, Pretoria, and the Mohedo family in Nigel, Ekurhuleni.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura swapped his Nigerian inspired attires for an overall and a hard hat on Thursday morning, as he and some volunteers, were seen painting the houses during a hand over on Mandela Day.
“These families have had no houses for over 20 years,” said philantrophist and businessman Collen Mashawana, who is also the executive chairperson of AfriBiz Invest, a company with interests in the construction, water and sanitation development, infrastructure and property development sectors.
Mashawana said they received hundreds of requests to build houses for the poor, and this year alone, they had built 14 already, he said.
His company also bids for government contracts and is involved in a massive housing project in Pretoria, where they are building more than 17 000 low-cost houses, he said.
“We get hundreds of requests, we assess all requests and see what we can do for families headed by disabled people and old people,” he explained.
Gauteng Premiere @David_Makhura and @AfribizInvest Executives @CollenTshifhiw1 @cecilmashawana1 putting last final touches to the two houses in soshanguve.#AfribizInvest#CollenMashawanaFoundation#AfribizInvestHousingAppeal#MandelaDay pic.twitter.com/SrLtFbDFVj
— Afribiz Invest (@AfribizInvest)
July 18, 2019
— Afribiz Invest (@AfribizInvest)
July 16, 2019
Last year, Mashawana said they built and donated 15 houses to the poor, and this year, they had doubled their target and were hoping to build and donate a sum total of 30 houses.
He said the Mohedo family in Nigel, which was headed by a 102-year-old grandfather and his wife, touched him.
The elderly pensioners, who were Number 2 440 on the Ekurhuleni housing list, live with three grandchildren.
Mashawana intervened last month, and on Mandela Day, the shack the family called home for over 20 years will be demolished and will be replaced with a furnished brick and mortar house, with a ceiling, running water and electricity.
“This family was number 2 440 on the housing list,” said Mashawana. “Which means 2 439 families have to get their houses first before they get their turn. We thought because they are very elderly, he has very little time to wait another year for the housing list from government and we decided we can assist,” said Mashawana.
He said the elderly couple had been waiting for a house for over 20 years. By nightfall on Thursday, the shack will be demolished and the family will move into a new furnished home.
Koko Nyatikazi has stayed in the shack behind me for all most 2 decades with 2 grandchildren. She has promised me she will whisper a good word for me to the BIG MAN upstairs. This Thursday she will receive keys to her new house. #afribizhousingappeal #collenmashawanafoundation pic.twitter.com/4BPthypwj6
— Collen Mashawana (@CollenTshifhiw1)
July 16, 2019
Back in Soshanguve, the two families were headed by a 73-year-old grandmother and an 85-year-old grandmother.
At the Baleke family, the 73-year-old grandmother relied on her pension and also sold recycled bottles to support her family, which consisted of five grandchildren aged between three and 14.
The Nyatikazi family, the 85-year-old grandmother, supported two grandchildren, who were both under 18.
“We come across many families who need assistance and we assist them with the assistance of the Collen Mashawana Foundation. All the houses we build are equipped with ceiling, solar geyser, water and electricity, furniture and sometimes, depending on the need, we build houses as big as three or four bedrooms in size sometimes,” said Mashawana.
Mashwana’s Mandela Day message called for people to be consistent and not reserve acts of kindness for only July 18.
“Let us all be consistent, we don’t have to wait for Mandela Day to make a difference in people’s lives. For us, everyday is a Mandela Day. We can’t solve the problems in the community on our own, so we call on others in the private sector and corporations to make a plan, work with us.
“Bidvest has been donating the solar geysers for all the houses we are building. If you can come in and give furniture, clothes or blankets, come on, let us make it a collective effort to make the lives of people better, we can all make a difference,” he said.
Pauline Ngozo, the daughter of 101-year-old Sarah Ngozo, who was moved to a low cost house from her shack in December last year, said she was thankful for the gesture shown to her mother. She said the Mohedo family would be their neighbour.
“The house is so nice, it is three bedroom house with a kitchen with toilet and bathroom. This has changed our lives because we had really bad furniture and a coal stove before and when we moved in here, we found a house with new sofas, electric stove, beds and wardrobe,” he said.
Pauline, 58, has dedicated her life to being her mothers caregiver. They survive on her welfare pension and she has to frequently take her to the hospital at least twice a month, which sets her back by R300 everytime.
“Our situation has changed a lot, but we just don’t have electricity because we are told more houses are still being built. There is a solar geyser, but the water is cold because it is winter, so I have to go look for wood to make a fire to get hot water for my mother,” she said.