RESIDENTS of the poverty-stricken Bersheba township outside Kirkwood were overjoyed when Sundays River Municipality mayor Mbulelo Kebe handed over 52 RDP houses to beneficiaries yesterday.
Bersheba township – which is 15km from Kirkwood – has about 1500 households, of which most are mud structures.
It also has a high unemployment rate.
Residents sang and danced as Kebe handed over the keys to the new owners.
Kebe said the municipality was following a promise made by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale to deliver more houses.
"We made a promise that we will deliver houses to the people who deserve them.
"After seeing the conditions people lived under, we contacted the MEC [Helen Sauls-August] and decided to help,” he said.
Kebe said that they planned on handing over more houses to people before the end of the year.
"We depend on Eskom to come and take down the electricity boxes so that we can demolish the [mud] houses and build new ones.”
Jane Roberts, 52, who has been renting since her house burnt down in 2009, said she would sleep better at night.
"This is the first time in my life that I will have electricity. Now I am dry [when it rains] and I do not feel cold. I am very happy,” the mother of two said.
Roberts’s sentiments were echoed by Ntombizodwa Mupa, 50, who was delighted to swap her mud house for her three- room RDP house.
"I was born here and I have been living in bad conditions all my life. I would not sleep at night because my house was leaking everywhere.
"I have a good house now. I am happy and satisfied with the house. I am lost for words,” an ecstatic Mupa said.
Bersheba councillor Bukelwa Snoek said she would also be sleeping better.
"The people are very close to me and I would struggle to sleep at night, especially when it rained. At least now some of my people have proper houses,” she said.
Kebe was accompanied by other municipal workers, councillors, and officials from the Human Settlements Department.