20/12/2017 11:02 SAST | Updated 20/12/2017 11:02 SAST

Wheelchair-Bound Manenberg Grandpa Thrilled By New House

Backyard family one of 84 new beneficiaries of the City of Cape Town's Breaking New Ground project in The Downs, Manenberg.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

After living in a backyard dwelling for five years, a 66-year-old wheelchair-bound grandfather and his family finally moved into a place that they can call home.

Victor Banjatwa, who had lived in a backyard with his wife and grandson, moved into his Breaking New Ground (BNG) house in The Downs in Manenberg on Tuesday morning.

The City of Cape Town's mayoral committee member for area central, councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, and officials from the transport and urban development authority assisted the Banjatwa family.

READ: Waiting period on Cape Town's housing list is 60 years, meeting told

The family now owns a brand-new two-bedroomed BNG house situated just off Govan Mbeki Road.

"I never thought that I would live to see the day when I will have my own house. We have been living in somebody else's backyard in Khikhi for five years," Banjatwa said.

Small dwelling

It had been difficult for the wheelchair-bound grandfather to move in and out of the structure without help.

The dwelling was also too small to fit any furniture.

Banjatwa was overwhelmed by emotion before the big move.

"I was so excited last night that I could not sleep. I cannot thank the city enough for my new house. I am at peace now, knowing that we will be okay," he said.

Mamkeli was filled with pride after the city assisted the Banjatwa family.

"I felt immense pride and happiness this morning when I took Mr Banjatwa to his new house that we have adapted to suit his special needs. This is one example of how the city is changing people's lives for the better," Mamkeli said.

The Banjatwa household is among 84 families who have moved into BNG houses in The Downs over the past few days.

Mamkeli said around 62 households moved in last Christmas.

The 84 families who moved in recently wanted to wait for the electricity to be switched on, which took place on December 16.

"We are celebrating this momentous occasion with these families, the majority of whom are from Manenberg. They are now entering a new chapter in their lives. Here they can be at peace and share joyful moments with their loved ones."

Transformation plan

The Downs project is located on five different sites in Manenberg.

Once completed, it will consist of 555 BNG houses.

The city's mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Councillor Brett Herron, said the cost of the 555 BNG houses amounted to R77-million.

The city has completed 146 units to date.

"The Downs housing project is a clear example of our intention to develop new housing opportunities on well-located land where lower-income families have easy access to public transport," Herron said.

Herron said the city's Organisational Development and Transformation Plan prioritises transit-oriented development (TOD), which is the strategy they had adopted in 2016 to transform Cape Town's spatial form.

"TOD is, in a nutshell, a very important tool we are using to ensure that new developments –– such as housing –– happen in the right place so that residents spend less time and money on commuting."

He said their vision was to create an inclusive Cape Town where more people have access to economic opportunities –– cutting the cost of transport and bringing residents closer to work opportunities.