A few months ago, when Human Settlements Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa into the Mbekweni area in Paarl in the Western Cape, 98-year-old resident Nonini “Mandungwana” Adonis said that she had given up hope.
Like other houses in her area, her home, made of asbestos material, had water leaking through the roof whenever it rained and the living conditions did not favour her fragile health.
When Mfeketo returned to the area on Thursday to handover a refurbished house back to Adonis, the elderly citizen failed to contain her tears and was at a loss for words when asked how she felt when she saw her much improved home.
“This is God’s work,” an emotional Adonis said.
She said rainy days were her worst days and that she was happy to finally be in her new home.
The house, which has two bedrooms, a lounge, kitchenette and an extended bathroom, left Adonis sobbing uncontrollably as she walked in it for the first ever since renovations started at the house just over two months ago.
The handover of the refurbished house was part of Women’s Day activities in the area ahead of the President’s Women Day address at the Mbekweni Stadium, which is a few minutes walk from the elderly citizen’s home.
Mfeketo said Adonis was prioritised due to the fact that she was old and sickly.
“We came here at some stage round about January with the President and we were coming to check what is happening and we walked from door-to-door, we happened to come to this house. We came across this elderly woman, who was sickly, and we decided we are going to do something, which we subsequently did.
“This whole area needs some renovation and [together with the Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela] we talked about assisting because mostly, there are old people who are staying here. [We said we need] to use the grant to help renovate and do what needs to be done to [give houses a facelift] so that it is habitable.
“This is the first process of that. She was in hospital not long ago. We felt that because she is sickly, we need to start with her house,” she said.
Dubbed Women’s Month, this year’s Women’s Day celebrations are being held in tribute of fallen struggle stalwart Mama Albertina Sisulu, who would celebrate her 100th birthday this year.
August is also used to commemorate the August 9, 1956 historic Women’s march, where about 20 000 women walked to the Union Buildings in opposition to unjust pass laws to the then apartheid government.
“Mama Sisulu would be very happy that we are prioritising old people in their last days of life to be comfortable and it is significant for me and for many young women to see that government is pro assisting older people and making them feel comfortable,” Mfeketo said.
Zukiswa Nomana, a local ward six councillor, said the handover of the house came at the right time for Adonis, who she said had vowed to stay away from the polls after giving up hope of ever living in a decent house.