Funeral homes are in high demand

27 05 2008

 

by Syanda Ngcobo

The increases of funeral home in Grahamstown, does mean there are more deaths than elsewhere. Grahamstown is a small town with about 150 000 population http://www.ru.ac.za/academic/departments/geography/body_geninfor.html#gi02. This small town have more than ten funeral parlours and the 11th one is coming soon. The most question that comes to the minds of  journalists, is Grahamstown experience more deaths than any town in South Africa?

 One of the owners of Funeral parlours says Grahamstown experience more deaths during winter season. She says there are more deaths in winter because people especially this time of the year poor and old people tend to die more because they lack heater and do not have proper nutrition and no proper shelter. Old people die because of cold weather while young ones die because of HIV/AIDS. Some young people kill one another when there are drunk. This is not a phenomenon problem facing Grahamstown citizens only, but is threat for the whole South Africa http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/stories/s263908.htm.  No one can argue that many people are not dying because of HIV/AIDS.

 One may say that lose for another is the benefit for the other person, it is a zero sum game, because the more people die the more funeral parlour making tons of money. On the other side the poor residents have to go to banks and cash loans to borrow money to cover funeral expenses. One of the funeral parlours directors said that when more people dying he make good money. People would come buy coffins, hire hearse, bus (sometimes) thumb stone. The industry is very busy in Grahamstown, http://media.www.bgnews.com/media/storage/paper883/news/2008/04/30/Local/Dunn-Keeps.Funeral.Business.Alive-3357332.shtml.

Some people believes that its about time to go back to their olden ways of burying their loved ones. One of the Grahamstown residents says it was much better during time of Makana because people were covered with cow’s skins, or old blankets, but today funeral has become a form of a party or something. If you do not have money to make a funeral to be on the standard you become a laughing stock to the whole community. So, if you do not have money you have to go and borrow it, but at the end you end up left with nothing to eat.

 Some Grahamtowns citizens do not like to hear the idea about new funeral service that has been build. They use our death, pain and suffering to rich themselves. One of the resident even said these people have something to do with growth of death in their town. Why do we have lot of funeral parlours and they make them feel uncomfortable especial the ones that are build in the townshipshttp://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/stories/s263908.htm.

However the directors of these funeral homes do not only give customers what they have paid for, but they also offer emotional support to mourning families.

 





Low-cost housing in South Africa – a story of fraud, corruption, and general mismanagement.

25 05 2008

By Michelle Solomon

The low-cost houses in Vukani, a district in Grahamstown’s township, are in a seriously poor condition, displaying cracking walls, loose bricks, and leaking roofs. But Vukani is not the only housing project to be in such a poor state, and all over South Africa housing projects have become the subject of often scathing news reports.

“Over the last few years, many communities have shown their growing dissent over the government’s perceived poor levels in service delivery [in housing]” (Burgoyne, 12). In Vukani, experts have attributed the dismal state of Vukani housing to the use of emerging contractors, various degrees of corruption, poor planning and monitoring on the part of Makana municipality, and so on. Burgoyne writes that “the housing strategy lacked coherency and inadequately defined the roles and responsibilities of all role players in the housing sector.” According to Burgoyne, “this has contributed to the present breakdown in delivery and confusion as to housing responsibilities” (13).

The latest version of the South African Housing Code better defines the responsibilities of the various players in the housing sector, and most importantly that of local government. In terms of health of safety for instance, the municipality must “ensure that conditions not conducive to the health and safety of the inhabitants of its area of jurisdiction are prevented or removed” (South African Housing Code). Now if we ignore all the other clauses stipulating Makana’s responsibility for the problem in Vukani, the health and safety clause is clear. When we were in Vukani, many of the 1000 houses built had loose bricks over doorways, and even walls that swung roughly 1 cm in a slight breeze – these pose clear safety risks. A mother residing in Vukani was particularly concerned that the loose bricks above her front door would fall down and fatally injure her young children.

The Media and Communication’s officer at Makana municipality denies responsibility for the problem, while the Public Services Accountability Monitor (PSAM) and other sources claim this to be false.

Similar problems have arisen nation-wide. In an online story published by City Press, reporters state that a common problem with low-cost housing in several provinces is “shoddy workmanship” (Dumisane Lubisi, Jackie Mapiloko, Makhudu Sefara). In the Eastern Cape’s case, the poor quality of the houses may be attributed to several factors, but Lubisi, Mapiloko and Sefara point out a crucial error on the part of the provincial government. “The province elected to build a 40m² house using a conditional grant allowance which was based on a 30m² unit as the national norm,” Phumlani Mndolomba of the Eastern Cape Housing Department is quoted as saying (Lubisi et al).

The problem of poor workmanship of housing projects has also occurred in Mpumalanga, where the province had to destroy a housing project amounting to R9.5-million after is was discovered that “the developer had used “weak bricks” to build the 427 units” (Lubisi et al).

Mamelodi, a housing project on the periphery of Tshwane, Guateng, has also been declared of an inferior quality. “The more than 600 houses constructed to date are so defective that the Tshwane metro council refuses to issue occupation certificates and allow them to move in”, writes Waldner in City Press. Apparently, Tshwane metro did not approve any of the houses in Mamelodi’s Extension 22 because the “poor workmanship and materials used do not meet the minimum standards set by national building regulations” states council spokesperson Antoinette Mostert.

Ndivhuwo Mabaya, national housing department spokesperson, has stated that in cases where houses were of poor quality or where developers had disappeared after being paid, government would track down the developers and recover the money (Lubisi et al). In our investigation however, allegations were made that often beneficiaries of these sub-standard houses are intimidated by those responsible for the problem, including contractors and local government, and so they do not have a space to voice the problems with their homes. In Mamelodi, some houses were allegedly built on crooked foundations, the windows have no glass, and there are no storm-water pipes (Waldner). The latter of these is also evident in the houses of Vukani, and because the project is based on a slope, flooding and winter rains are potentially very hazardous to the safety of Vukani residents.

Delmas, Mpumalanga, has also been the site of an even worse standard of low-cost housing. Here, roughly 500 houses are subject to poor and defective sewerage systems, among other things. Mokoena writes that roughly 500 houses in Delpark Extension 2 are “surrounded by a trench of dirty, stinking water, which contains faeces”. There are also “leaking water pipes, roofs, drains and toilets. Others have no window panes, doors and sewer pipes” according to Mokoena.

“In some parts of the area, the drainage system cannot function properly, causing spillage of water and faeces into some of the houses, while in other areas there are no toilets, and residents are forced to walk for about 15 minutes to the veld to relieve themselves.” (Mokoena)

The national housing project has aimed to provide the many South Africans living in informal settlements (corrugated iron shacks) with “adequate housing”. In the South African constitution, it is a right to have such housing, but to the dismay of low-cost housing beneficiaries nation-wide, housing departments are not even meeting national standards for these housing. And we fail dismally and completely on an international scale.

Relevant links:

South African Housing Code; Part 2; Chapter 2.3 – “Role and functions of local government”

http://www.housing.gov.za/Content/The%20Housing%20Code/Part%202/Part%202%20-%20Chapter%202.htm#2.3

Burgoyne. “Factors affecting housing delivery in South Africa”.

http://209.85.175.104/search?q=cache:olUi3UnzOJ8J:ir.sun.ac.za/dspace/bitstream/10019/759/1/Burgoyne,%2BML.pdf+%22RDP+housing%22,+%22south+africa%22,+%22poor+quality%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=12&gl=za

Dumisane Lubisi, Jackie Mapiloko, Makhudu Sefara. City Press. “R2bn housing scandal”.

http://www.news24.com/City_Press/News/0,,186-187_2151358,00.html

Mariechen Waldner. City Press. “Shack dwellers rue defective homes”.

http://www.news24.com/City_Press/News/0,,186-187_2085334,00.html

Matefu Mokoena. City Press. “Mayor slammed over poor-quality houses”.

http://www.news24.com/City_Press/News/0,,186-187_1094096,00.html

 





The plight of donkeys and their owners

29 04 2008

By Bianca Silva,

Travelling through the Grahamstown townships one cannot help but notice two things, firstly the contrast in lifestyle between the suburbs and the township and then secondly the amount of donkeys and goats that wander freely through the streets. The reality for many of the township residents is that these donkeys provide a livelihood, transport and a means for people to support their families. This has been pointed out in both student newspapers at Rhodes University, Activate and the Oppidan Press. Travelling through town donkey carts are also a common spectacle. However maintaining the health of these animals as well as buying and maintaining the necessary equipment is expensive. A new harness costs up to R600 and the need for frequent farrier visits is not always a viable option as donkey owners are mostly live in poverty, however if the donkeys’ feet are not well maintained there is the possibility that the animal will become permanently lame. The lack of resources and lack of sufficient education available to the owners is what makes onlookers believe that these donkeys are mistreated. However unintentional the poor state of the donkey is, it is threatening the livelihood of donkey owners as well as causing suffering to the donkeys. According to Katherine Townshend, founder of the ROAR Donkey Deal, a society which is currently making a transition to become an NGO, “Donkeys provide people with a livelihood, so they do not want their donkey to get sick or die,” explains Townshend. (http://ruactivate.wordpress.com/2007/08/09/roar-deal-for-donkeys/)   The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) will confiscate donkeys which they believe are not being taken proper care of and charge a R400 release fee. According to Annerie Wolmaraans of the Makana Donkey association some donkey owners make up to R60 a day (http://madcaptraveller.wordpress.com/2007/06/05/riding-with-the-donkey-cart-men/). The R400 fee donkey owners will have to pay to have their donkeys released from the SPCA is almost as much as a donkey owner would make in a month, without this money both the donkey owners and their families would suffer.

The ROAR Donkey Deal facilitates clinics once every two weeks, a space where donkey owners can bring their donkeys free of charge. The Donkey Deal employs farriers to take care of the donkeys’ feet and the members of the NGO disinfect cuts as well as helping owners to learn how to effectively look after their donkeys. The Donkey Deal is in the process of raising funds, although once they have successfully made their transition from society to NGO they can seek national funding. According to Townshend these funds can be spent on harnesses for the donkeys as well as on creating a tagging system. As it stands many donkey owners use scissors to cut markings on the donkeys’ ears as a means of showing possession. These cuts have the opportunity of becoming infected as well as causing complications in the instance of donkey theft. A person wanting to steal a donkey will often cut off the part of the ear which bears a marking. Townshend says she often sees donkeys walking around with bleeding ears.

On a national scale, as shown by a specific case in Polokwane, donkeys are a potentially untapped resource, which could aid public transport in rural areas and enable poorer people not to feel the effects of rising petrol prices as heavily. In Mogalakweng, Polokwane a R2.5m donkey cart pilot project was launched in 2004 in the Waterberg district (http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_1552993,00.html). The donkey carts are apparently popular with tourists, according to the provincial transport minister, Phuti Mabelebele. The donkey owners in the province were being provided with aid from the municipality as well as being taught how to effectively care for their donkeys.

According to Paul Starkey’s study on donkey misconception there is room for the expansion of use for donkeys. (http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:F-t3_de7spQJ:www.atnesa.org/sanat/Starkey-Donkeys-in-SouthAfrica-myths.pdf+donkey+project+south+africa&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=za). Starkey says donkeys have a potential to make a valuable contribution towards development strategies because of their ability to provide transport at low costs and provide a livelihood for people in poorer areas. According to him there are over 40 million donkeys world wide with a quarter of those residing in Africa. Starkey states that over one million people benefit from donkeys in Southern Africa, a number which he believes will continue to grow in time as “donkeys prove invaluable in rural areas as cheap, affordable and sustainable power sources for agriculture and transport that complement both engine power and human power.” According to Dirk Hanekom in his piece “The use of donkeys for transport in South Africa,” (http://www.atnesa.org/donkeys/donkeys-hanekom-transport-ZA.pdf) the average South African donkey can carry up to 76kg, although in a double drawn carriage donkeys could pull up to 700kg on a flat road, including the cart and 400kg on a slope. This shows that donkeys can be used as a cheap means of transporting goods, however slow it may be.

However even if people can use donkey power more effectively it will not eradicate the amount of poverty in South Africa, however it may help to soften the effects of it for those able to use donkeys, a small grace. A question however remains, is it the job of NGO’s to fulfil the service of providing resources and education to donkey owners or should that be the job of the municipality? How can the plight of donkeys and donkey owners be successfully decreased?