Inhumane conditions at Helen Joseph Women’s Hostel in the spotlight again

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    MP Van Damme puts the spotlight on hostel’s woes, ANC

    The plight of the residents of Helen Joseph Women’s Hostel is back in the spotlight as the 2019 election campaign gears up.

    The DA Member of Parliament, Phumzile van Damme, visited the place recently following the footsteps of many others in the past. They all left the thousands of residents beaming, only for their hopes to be dashed by broken promises as their circumstances continue to deteriorate.

    Alex News tagged on and as on previous visits, reported on their inhumane living conditions at the multi-story structure – the conditions of which are known far and wide. The unfulfilled promises by a succession of the Joburg City Council and provincial administrations seem a part of politicians paying lip service to acquire votes or maintain hegemony.

    The previous news reports include, Assessment report awaited before work on Madala of 26 November 2018. It touches on Helen Joseph hostel. Also, DA alarmed by no progress of August 2016 and Boys spy on hostel women of February 2018.

    They highlighted among others, the hostel’s structural damage and dilapidation, sewage and water oozing from blocked and broken pipes and flooding passages and kitchen entrances, broken gas stoves, windows, and sinks, blocked toilets and boys scaling through ceilings to peep on women in toilets and threatening their safety. Promises to repair and relocate them are now like worn-out songs despite millions of rands of alleged annual allocations with scant monitoring.

    In a report, Van Damme whose DA party intends laying criminal charges against the area councilor said she saw the horrendous conditions the women are forced to live in. “Some of them accused long-standing councilor, Ambe Maseko, a resident of the place for not caring and attending to their complaints.

    “Crime is rampant in the area and just last week a grandmother was killed by unknown assailants and 12-year-old girls living in the hostel are pregnant.

    “The neglect also results in some residents not getting birth certificates and identity documents – essential when registering as a voter – which are lost in incessant shack fires wrecking the township.”

    This she said, hinders their access to basic services, social grants and learners in matric from writing their final exams.

    “It’s unacceptable for Alex to be denied access to these basics services and is another indication of the ANC failing a vibrant community with great potential but lacking the right people to govern at the provincial level where housing is overseen,” Van Damme added.

    She heaped blame on the ANC accusing them of corruption and oppressing the growth of the country and urging for a vote for her party.

    “This through direct elections for all political office holders so that citizens can hold their president and premiers directly accountable.”

    Affirming the problems, Maseko, an ANC member, welcomed anyone to help in resolving the hostel’s problems. “Months have passed since the current City administration allocated millions of rands for the hostel’s maintenance.”

    Maseko added that the hostel was a cash cow for contractors allegedly linked to ‘unnamed’ housing officials.

    “Requests for them to be investigated have been in vain.”

    She added that the problems are also reported at all council forum meetings, including from previous administrations, known by the regional director and delegations of various interest groups with no solutions.

    Maseko suggested approaching provincial and national governments for help and urged the media to keep the matter in the limelight and politicians on their toes.

    Hopefully, the campaigning which is hotting up won’t live up to the maxim, pot calling the stove black, but rather be a contestation of viable ideas for real change in the lives of the hostel’s residents and many other citizens still wallowing in poverty decades into our democracy.