[DEBATE] : eMOUSE CRACKS
Pithouser at ukzn.ac.za
Tue Oct 3 07:29:28 BST 2006
Tuesday, 3 October 2006
Press Release from the eMouse Development Committee
(Newly Affiliated to Abahlali baseMjondolo)
eMouse is in Ward 15 in Pinetown between the N2 and the factories
behind the Marianhill Monastery. We were moved here, to New eMouse from
Old eMouse 16 years ago. Before that we had been living in self built
houses on Monastery land for generations. Although we had to fetch water
from the river we were happy there. The houses that we had built didn't
leak. The first attempt to move us was in 1979 when a white man came in
a landrover and said that we must go to KwaNdengezi. Some went but most
of us said no. Then they tried to move us to KwaNdebeka. We fought
against that too. We fought to get a place here. Then we were moved to
New eMouse, close to old eMouse, in 1991. The land where we had been
living was sold to industrialists and used for factories. The new land
was not prepared for a housing development. The church built 97 houses.
We had to pay for these houses. We had to pay R1800 for the two room
fibreglass houses and R3800 for the 4 room brick houses. The houses were
just dumped on the side of the hill. There was no drainage put in and
from the beginning the water has just poured into the houses. Because of
this, everything rots in the houses, even when we put the furniture up
on planks on bricks. Most of us have very bad chest problems. The houses
were very badly built. It was a quick job, a cheap job and a shit job.
They wanted to get us out of the area where we had been living
peacefully as quickly as possible so that they could make their money.
On 17 February 1998 we were given the title deeds for the houses. In the
same year the church handed the area over to the Municipality.
Both the fibreglass and brick houses have now cracked up. Some of the
fibreglass houses, which are really just boxes with doors in them, have
split right apart at the corners. The brick houses are breaking up
inside and outside. Because we can't fit our children and grandchildren
into the houses they have had to build jondolos. There are now 3 or 4
jondolos for each house. The Municipality tries to stop us building the
jondolos for our children. Sometimes they come and knock them down. Are
they saying that we must all live in one house? Grandparents, children
and grandchildren altogether? There has been no development at all since
the end of apartheid. None. In the whole community there are 3
standpipes. Some of the houses have prepaid electricity meters. The
sceptic tanks were never cleaned out and so many of us have had to put
concrete in the toilets to stop the smell. There is no school, no shops,
no police station, no clinic, no drainage and no tarred road but we must
pay rates. The houses are so badly cracked that we have to sleep under
plastic when it is raining.
The chipboard ceilings rotted away a long time ago. The asbestos roofs
on the brick houses are breaking up and we worry about our children
breathing in the fibres. We also worry about Campus Waste which is
burning waste right where we live. It smells like it is poisonous. Few
of us have jobs in the factories. When we do find work we are sometimes
exploited very badly. Polymar Contact pays 50c for every lamp polished
and a person working there from 7 in the morning until 4:30 in the
afternoon will only make around R200 a week.
We need our area to be developed. We need houses to be built for our
children. It is not right to have 17 people living in one house or to
have our children raise their families in jondolos. But our councillor,
Dimba, the same Dimba who has threatened people in the Motala Heights
Settlements with his guns, has told us that 'this area is already
developed'. How can it be that an area is developed because some people
have title deeds to these cracked up houses which are full of water
every time it rains and in which everything is always rotting? How can
it be that this area is already developed when our children must live in
jondolos? The Indians here are also suffering. So many of them still
live in the tin.
The Municipality just want to stay in their offices. They don't want to
come to us and know our problems. We want them to come to the people. We
want them to talk to us. All over the people are finished with the
councillors. All over people are sick and tired of the councillosr and
deciding to represent themselves The councillors only come to us when
they want votes. They are the new chiefs. They spy on us and control us.
They do not speak for us. Anyone who asks difficult questions or who
says what the people are thinking is immediately marginalised from the
B.E.C. Some are even threatened for saying what the people want to say.
When the Development Committee calls the councillor for meetings he just
doesn't come. The way forward is for the Development Committee to be
independent and to represent the people directly. We need to break with
the councillors who don't represent the people. The Councillors just try
and use the Development Committees to tell the people what to do. There
is too much lying. We want the Development Committees to tell the
Municipality what we need it to do. When Enviroserve wanted to set up
another incinerator in our area Dimba said nothing and did nothing. But
we negotiated directly with them and they stopped it. This works much
better than going to the councillor and asking him to represent the
people. Councillors just want to represent the powerful people above
them. We have seen how communities that have joined Abahlali
baseMjondolo are representing themselves. This is the way forward. This
is real democracy.
The people in eMouse understand Abahlali baseMjondolo. Everywhere
people have problems with the councillors and are deciding to represent
themselves. Everywhere people are joining Abahlali because Abahlali is
giving the power back to the people. If anything is happening to
Abahlali we will all stand up and go. Our eyes are open now.
Today we announce to the world that we are finished with the
councillor. Today we announce that we will represent ourselves. Today we
announce that we are with Abahlali.
On Saturday Dimba was told that photographs of our cracked houses were
loaded onto IndyMedia. We were immediately threatened and told that he
would no longer sign the forms confirming the addresses of people living
in eMouse. We will not be intimidated.
Last night we had a mass meeting in the eMouse Hall to launch our
independence from the councillor and our affiliation to Abahlali
baseMjondolo. We couldn't fit everyone in the hall and lots of people
had to stand outside. Speaker after speaker from the floor said that
they don't want to go via the councillor anymore. From now on eMouse
will confront the municipality directly.
Sifuna izindlu! Sifuna esikoleni! Sifuna eclinic! Sifuna isitolo!
Sifuna umsebenzi! Sifuna itransport! Qina umhlali! Sekwanele!
For print quality pictures of the cracks in the houses in eMouse please
(These are the pictures that so enraged Dimba that he is now refusing
to sign important forms for eMouse residents. Clearly he thinks that we
must keep our cracked houses as a secret to ourselves. We will not be
For further information and comment on the cracks between Councillor
Dimba and the eMouse community please contact Mr Pewa on 0731533187.
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