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Tshepang was barely in her teens when she and her younger sister, Bontle – then a mere two years old – were left homeless after the death of their mother in 2006.
Their father had disappeared from home a year earlier. With his whereabouts unknown, the poor sisters had no one to turn to or to look after them except an abusive grandmother from whose house they were later forced to flee. This was after they could not take the torrent of material, physical and emotional abuse any longer.

Now, nine years after their mother’s death, the two siblings have a permanent place they call home thanks to the City of Johannesburg and the selflessness of an RDP Region G housing developer. The two orphans were among several beneficiaries of free homes handed over Ward F councillory the City’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing, Councillor Dan Bovu, in Region G on Friday as part of the continuing Mandela Day celebrations in honour of the iconic statesman’s selflessness.

After fleeing their grandmother’s home in Majazana, Weiller’s Farm, the two girls were accommodated at a Braamfontein shelter following the intervention of social workers. Their plight was later brought to the attention of  Shirley Nemfumbaza, who accommodated them in her home.

On hearing the sad story of the two girls, one of the RDP housing developers decided to build them a house in Lehae, near Lenasia, south of Johannesburg. The handover of the three-roomed house – with an inside toilet and a bath – has brought their wandering days to an end.

Tshepang, who is now aged 22 and works at a Morningside Clinic laboratory, said the housing gift had brought a welcome relief to their life.

“It was hell not having a home. It was equally challenging living in a shelter,” said Tshepang.

“We’re very happy and wish to give our heartfelt thanks to Councillor Shirley, who has been treating us like her own. We wonder where we would be without her.”

Councillor Nemfumbaza said she was happy and relieved that the girls now had a house of their own but expressed concern that theirs was a child-headed household. She promised to visit them from time to time to see how they were coping. Another beneficiary of the free homes is 90-year-old Esther Morake, who is visually challenged.
She had been living in a shack in Stretford Extension 3 in Orange Farm with her three daughters and four grandchildren.

“I’m very happy to finally have a house of my own. I’ve been living a nomadic life in tin shacks for almost my entire life,” she said.

Her house was donated by developers Quantum Leap and Foundation Motheo. The other beneficiaries are the families of Esther Dangala, 85, Winnie Maseko, 57, Puleng Sebeko, 56, of Drieziek extension 5, Qata Chonco, 85, Farieda Pylman, 60, and Deevlagandhi Raw.