Millions for toilets but still no houses: Mayfield residents 10 years later

A decade after being moved from a disaster area, Mayfield residents near Benoni were still waiting for their RDP houses. Meanwhile, millions have been spent on toilets.

Serviced stands built by the Ekurhuleni Municipality for residents while they wait for housing. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey-Makhaza/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Ten years after being moved from their homes that were built on dolomitic land, Mayfield residents are still waiting for the RDP houses that government promised them. And the Ekurhuleni municipality has invested millions of rands building toilets in the area instead of houses.

The community was moved from Bapsfontein to the area near Benoni by the Ekurhuleni municipality between 2010 and 2012 after the initial informal settlement was declared a disaster area. But things have gotten no better, with residents telling Eyewitness News that nothing had come of the municipality's promises while they lived near a hazardous dam and illegal dumping site.

In 2019, some frustrated residents forcefully moved on to serviced stands that were meant for a neighbouring community and erected shacks there. But not everyone could secure a stand and many now lived in dire conditions without proper sanitation and basic services.

One of those residents was 82-year-old Emily Madonsela.

"I'm desperately pleading, I live in water and I'm cold. I'm extremely cold in this shack."

Madonsela's son worked out of town, leaving her alone and vulnerable to criminals. She said that she'd lost hope that she would see the inside of her RDP home in her lifetime.

"I don’t have water, I don’t have electricity. I struggle to go get water at the communal tap," she added.

Many here echoed the elderly woman’s sentiments, saying that the toilets that government had built in the community were an insult.

WATCH: ‘I just want a place to call home’- Mayfield residents still waiting for housing 10 years later

Another man told Eyewitness News that he was waiting for 11 years for an RDP house after the informal settlement in Bapsfontein was declared a disaster area due to dolomitic land.

"We don’t know what to do. They keep telling us stories. We don’t have electricity. Those who have are over there, not too far from us," he said.

He claimed that government promised to begin the process of moving the elderly to RDP houses in the nearby Baghdad area in June, but there was no movement so far.

The Ekurhuleni municipality spent millions of rands building service stands, which it said were aimed at reducing the massive RDP house backlog and upgrading the lives of backyard dwellers. While some of the toilets had been allocated to community members, many remained abandoned and had been vandalised by criminals and angry residents.

Some of the toilets have now been stripped of basins, geysers and doors. In some cases, they have become a hiding spot for criminals who target the vulnerable in the community.

Ekurhuleni Human Settlements MEC Lesiba Mpya told Eyewitness News that the toilet project was not to delay government from delivering on its promise of proper housing for the poor.

He committed that nearly 200 Mayfield residents would move into their RDP homes later in June. Priority would be given to the elderly, some of whom had been on the housing list in 1996.

The municipality has also condemned those who destroyed the toilets, saying that this only delayed their efforts in accelerating service delivery.

Mpya said that the toilets were a short-term intervention aimed at improving the lives of the residents while government dealt with massive housing backlogs.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.