A family living in a rat-infested wendy house in Philippi say they want some answers from the City of Cape Town, which twice turned down their application to move into a new housing development after initially giving them the nod.
The Koks, a family of four, have lived in the wendy house at Dagbreek Farm, for the past ten years. In 2013, Sageshvarie, 49 and her husband Peter Kok, 65, received a letter from the City stating they would get a subsidised house in the Pelican Park housing development after 21 years on the City’s housing waiting list.
They were overjoyed, and the family were ready to move into their new home – but their delight was short-lived.
Later in 2013, the Koks received a letter from the City’s department of human settlements saying they no longer qualified for housing in Pelican Park because they already owned property.
Puzzled, the family went to the Pelican Park housing office to query the letter. They say officials told them that according to their records Ms Kok owned a farm in Ermelo, Mpumalanga.
The family say they then produced documents from the valuation roll proving this was not the case.
Then, last year when the couple visited the housing office in Pelican Park they were told the problem had been resolved and they would receive the keys to their home.
But the keys never arrived and the issue of the farm in Ermelo came up again earlier this year when they once again were told their application was invalid.
Ms Kok, who has epilepsy and diabetes and was medically boarded in 2000 from her job in the security department of a large clothing chain, is “disappointed and heartbroken” that the housing issue hasn’t been resolved.
“It has been years of back and forth with no resolution. In the meantime, we have been living in squalor and appalling conditions in our wendy house infested with rats, and once there was even a snake in the house,” said Ms Kok.
“I did not think it would be so difficult when I first came to Cape Town from Durban in 1995. You get all your hopes up, and then you are dissapointed over and over again – it takes its toll on you. It got so bad at a point that I was contemplating committing suicide because I couldn’t handle it anymore.”
Asked about the farm in Ermelo, Ms Kok said there was some confusion, as the woman listed as the owner of the farm was a Maria Kok. The only similarities were their surnames and birth dates – which meant the first six digits of their ID numbers were the same.
Another problem with the application was the fact that Mr Kok had formerly owned a house in Ocean View in his previous marriage. The couple said they had resolved that issue with the City.
Mr Kok said: “We gave the City documentation stating that the house that was previously on my name now fully belongs to my ex-wife,” he said.
Mr Kok, a pensioner, said they needed answers from the City.
“We need to get to a resolution, because we are in limbo and living in conditions that’s not suitable for any human being. We want a home for our children – a proper home with ablution facilities, because currently we have to make use of a hole on the farm to get rid of out waste. It’s inhumane, and I hope we can be helped,” said Mr Kok.
Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the City had only become aware of the issue about the farm in Ermelo because of the Southern Mail’s enquiry.
“Their names were submitted as potential beneficiaries for the project, but they must first meet all national housing subsidy criteria,” she said.
Asked if the Koks will get a house in Pelican Park, she said: “Unfortunately not, as Peter Kok purchased property in Ocean View in terms of the government’s national sales campaign some years ago.”