South Africa

GroundUp: ‘I came to Cape Town to give my children a better future’ – evicted woman

By GroundUp 6 June 2014

Veronica Lujabe moved to Cape Town from Lesotho because she wanted a better future for her children. This week her house in Lwandle was demolished. By Pharie Sefali for GROUNDUP.

Lujabe has four children. Two are teenagers and two are toddler twins.

On Monday morning she returned home from her nighttime job as a domestic worker. She says, “As I came back from work, I was alarmed to see police vans, trucks and cars with a City of Cape Town logo. I was confused because I did not know what was going on. When I was walking towards my street, I saw furniture, beds and other house materials on the road.”

She continues, “I couldn’t believe my eyes were seeing such misery. For a moment I thought I was in the wrong place. My brain came back when I realised that my house is not where it is supposed to be. As I ran to where it was, I saw my planks, zinc and other broken materials.”

Lujabe cried when she saw her belongings were on a truck. As the truck started moving, she ran to it and pleaded with the driver to stop. At first the people on the truck did not want to return her goods, but when she begged, they gave her back her bed but took everything else.

She says, “I am not sure if everything was [on] the truck but I lost my wardrobe, television, music system, small stove and a cupboard. My children do not have clothing.”

Since Monday both of her teenagers, who are in grade 6 and 10, haven’t been to school because they do not have uniforms, books and writing materials. She now fears they will fail the year.

“When I asked the people wearing green vests for my children’s books they did not pay any attention and just told me that I got my bed and should move away,” Lujabe says.

She had just borrowed a jersey for one of her twins who did not have clothes. She had missed lunch and her babies had not had anything to eat. She asked the woman who was serving food to at least give her what was left, which was the scrapings at the bottom of the rice pot.

Lujabe has been in Cape Town for more than five years. “I came here because I was looking for a job and to give my children a better future and opportunities. Where I came from, things are really hard and poverty is a norm,” she says.

Before she moved to Lwandle, she used to rent a shack for R500 in Strand. When she couldn’t afford the rent anymore she decided to build a shack of her own in Lwandle.

Lujabe says she is not sure what is going to happen now. She thinks she will needs to start all over again and try to work hard to buy her children clothes and food. Her immediate concern is that one of her twins, who does not have shoes, will get sick because the hall where they are staying is cold. DM

Photo: Veronica Lujabe with her twins. (Pharie Sefali)

Read more about community life in Khayelitsha and other Cape townships on GroundUp.

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