Deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga warned on Friday that Kennedy Road in Durban informal settlement is a ticking time bomb that must be fixed, or else it will result in the usual riots, service delivery protests and eventual loss of life.
He was speaking during an inspection at the Durban informal settlement where he went to check the extent of development done in the area since the Office of the Public Protector last visited in December.
During the inspection on Friday morning, Malunga explored the maze-like settlement witnessing the illegally connected electricity cables which formed a network of wires above his head.
This was part of an ongoing investigation that was launched to look into resolving security and service delivery concerns at the Glebelands hostel and informal settlement.
He interacted with the residents of the Durban informal settlement to find out if the city had done its duty to provide water, electricity, a functioning sewerage system as well as refuse collection.
In addition, he wanted to know if the residents are getting proper homes, and a retaining wall to prevent structures from collapsing.
Malunga was disappointed to discover during the inspection that the eThekwini Municipality had done very little to improve the lives of those living in the community.
Malunga encountered a young mother who lost a son to electrocution caused by exposed cables which had been connected illegally.
23-year-old Andiswa Zulu, 23, told Malunga that she lost her 2-year-old son last month and this was not the first time such an incident occurred in the settlement.
“He was playing outside and he touched a cable. I was called by someone who saw what happened and when I came outside I saw him burnt on the floor.”
Since she started living in Kennedy Road in 2012, little had changed the woman revealed.
“The cables are still exposed and many other children are at risk. We would love to have electricity in the house, but this is killing our children.”
Residents of the community admitted to connecting electricity illegally only because the city was not doing anything about it.
Another resident Nomagugu Mzizi, 40, who has lived in Kennedy Road for 14 years chipped in: “I have three children and I am unemployed. Our shacks always burn and we report the matter to the police and nothing happens. We live in mud, we don’t have toilets and use plastic bags as our toilets.
“There are no jobs. Some people received houses and others didn’t.”
From the entrance of his shack, Michael Mkhize added: “We don’t have electricity and we live in filth.
“We strike by blocking the roads, but the city does not do anything about it. They come here and bluff us, saying they will do something about it.”
59-year-old Constance Nshonga said her house which cost R35 000 to build is cracking. Only one bed fits into one room while she uses empty beer crates as chairs for her visitors in the house she shares with her nine grandchildren.
The woman said she came to Kennedy Road since the 1990s.
“I have been to the Councillor so many times. No human being deserves to live in these conditions. But maybe God will give us proper houses one day instead of these cardboard boxes that we live in.”
The residents remain hopeful that the inspection will lead to some positive changes in the area.