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‘No human should live in such conditions’ June

20 Jun

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‘No human should live in such conditions’

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Cape Argus

Christjan van Rooyen says he is worried that his elderly mother, Annie van Rooyen, who has had two strokes and remains in bed, may contract TB because of the mould. Picture Cindy Waxa

Cape Town – Some residents of Wallacedene’s temporary relocation area have taken to sending their children to live with relatives elsewhere to protect them from infections related to their poor living conditions.

The residents joined protesters in Kraaifontein who this week set tyres alight and uprooted trees in support of their call for houses.

They said that apart from the housing issue, their deteriorating health was their other big concern.

Diarrhoea among children and respiratory infections including tuberculosis, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis were just some of the diseases that had become common in the informal settlement.

During the Cape Argus’s visit to the area on Wednesday, the air was filled with the stench of uncollected refuse and stagnant water.

While some children played in the mud outside their homes, adults dug trenches next to their shacks to channel the water.

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Nomfaneleko Tshota says her child has been diagnosed with respiratory infection. Picture: Cindy Waxa

Cape Argus

Christo Jantjies sent his eight-year-old daughter to live with his mother after bouts of infections.

Jantjies, whose wife is due to have another baby in the next two months, said his living conditions were so poor “that I’m still confused as to whether or not to send my newborn away to stay with my mother in Kraaifontein”.

Since the start of winter his two-roomed shack has been swamped with water, which springs up from underground, especially after rains.

“It is so damp here that even making a fire doesn’t seem to make any difference these days. People get ill from all sorts of chest infections. I’ve sent my daughter away to my mother. It hurts me that I can’t stay with her, but rather that, as no child can live in such conditions,” he said.

Nomfaneleko Tshota said she had spent the past few weeks in Tygerberg Hospital after her four-month-old son, Iviwe, born with a congenital heart condition, contracted a respiratory infection that led to pneumonia.

“Doctors said the poor living conditions in this area might have led to the infection. His immune system is still weak due to his medical condition so anything unclean makes him sick,” she said.

Provincial Department of Health spokeswoman Faiza Steyn confirmed that Iviwe was in Tygerberg hospital with a heart condition.

“Due to the heart lesion, baby Iviwe is very susceptible to developing pneumonia, irrespective of the living conditions,” she said.

Tshota said she had also sent her daughter, Amahle, to her parents in Mbekweni to “keep her away from the filth”.

She claimed that her husband, Xolani Valencia, had contracted TB twice. “We don’t know how he got TB, but the mould around us had certainly contributed to his condition.”

Tshota said she also took part in the protest this week to express her frustration about not having a house.

“Our wish is to be moved from this area as it is a wetland. We want to live in a land where we don’t have water seeping through the floor. No human being should be living in such conditions,” she said.

Christjan van Rooyen, who also sent his child away to live with his sister in Bloekombos, said he was worried about his elderly mother, Annie van Rooyen, who had to live in squalor. She had suffered a stroke twice.

“Imagine what this dampness is doing to her health, year in and out. I worry that she might contract TB because of the mould that we have both in winter and summer,” he said.

The mayoral committee member on Health, Lungiswa James, said: “The City of Cape Town takes the concerns of residents in the area very seriously and will investigate the situation as a matter of urgency.”

Cape Argus

Jeanihess Blog South Africa

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