With 47 people crammed on to one property, COVID-19 a real threat for WC family

One member of the Mitchell's Plain family has been on the housing waiting list for more than 17 years.


CAPE TOWN - A Mitchells Plain family of 47 spoke to Eyewitness News about the terror they feel at the prospect of one of them getting COVID-19.

The extended family lives on one property - a three bedroom brick and mortar home with three informal structures attached. Everyone who lives there is related and one family has been on the housing waiting list for more than 17 years.

Resident Yolanda Daniels says after 10am the water runs dry. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

On a street in Beacon Valley, Mitchells Plain stands the white maisonette with three informal structures springing from its walls.

Homeowner Charles May said he was lucky enough to own the house but his extended family had nowhere to go.

The ages of people living in the home range from one year old to 71. They literally live on top of each other.

A shared bathroom for 47 people in one home in Mitchell's Plain. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

In the main house, there are three bedrooms shared by 27 people with a kitchen and lounge area. Another 20 family members live in the three wendy houses.

Yolanda Daniels is one of them and she said that living this way was always difficult, but the pandemic added a whole new dimension to their worry.

"If one of us gets it, all of us gets it because we don't have sanitiser all the time. The water is the first problem -there's only one toilet for 47 people. It's not right. The social worker was also here but nobody did anything."

The outside of the Beacon Valley home. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

Her sister, Roeshana Fataar, is sick of hearing advice to social distance and sanitise.

"If the president could come here and see how the people are living in this house, he'd see that the people in this house need to get out. We are all at risk of getting this virus. There are like 10 people to a room and this is not healthy."

She said that she had been on a housing waiting list for almost two decades, and now, more than ever, wants to move to her own place with her family.

The adult residents living on the property are concerned about the spread of COVID-19. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

May is also terrified: "We have one toilet inside and my concern is, and I pray to God, we mustn't pick it [the coronavirus] up."

Meanwhile, Pastor Dean Ramjoomia from the Nehemiah Call Initiative has been helping the family and said that he flagged the radical overcrowding several times.

Homeowner Charles May (red) says he is worried about the water and toilet situation on the premises. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

"Based on the context of what we're dealing with here, we need to provide emergency housing. The reduction of two families will be huge, which is almost 15 [people]."

Ramjoomia said that if ever there was a case to be made for emergency housing, this was it.

Local ward councillor Michael Pieterse said that he would look into the situation and would see how the City of Cape Town could assist.

Resident Yolanda Daniels walks into one of the informal structures on the Beacon Valley premises in Mitchells Plain. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

Resident Yolanda Daniels walks into one of the informal structures on the premises. Picture: Eyewitness News/Kaylynn Palm.

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