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Mandela Day tears of joy for elderly Rivonia domestic workers
2011/07/19 Ekurhuleni Communications
Ekurhuleni MMC for human settlement hand over a newly build house to 84-year-old woman Emily Makhalemele of Masechaba, Extension 1 in Duduza as part of the celebrations for 67 minutes for Mandela.

Cynthia Hitsa was a 27-year-old domestic worker in Rivonia when former President Nelson Mandela and ten other leaders were tried for 221 acts of sabotage designed to overthrow the apartheid system in what has become known as the Rivonia Trial.

Forty eight years later, Hitsa says she now understands the far reaching implications of the Rivonia Trial.

The 74-year-old elderly woman from Duduza shed a tear when the City of Ekurhuleni broke the news to her that as part of celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day, she will be receiving a house from the municipality after it was discovered she was staying alone in a shack.

Hitsa says she worked as a domestic worker in Rivonia in the early sixties as there were not many opportunities then for black people, especially women. 

“I still remember how quickly the news of Mandela’s arrest spread in Rivonia. I cannot believe that so many years later I am  going to own a house for the first time in my life due to what happened in the Rivonia Trial and because of Mandela’s selfless character,” she said. 

Another elderly woman whose lost dream to own a decent house was restored on Monday 189 July is 84-year-old Emily Makhalemele, also from Duduza. She received a brand new two bedroom house which has a kitchen, lounge and bathroom.

MMC for Human Settlement in Ekurhuleni, Clr Queen Duba, said Makhalemele was not getting an empty house: “We will also make sure she gets a kitchen and wardrobe units fitted in. We are also going to give her nutritional food,” she said.

Makhalemele struggles to walk, has three adult children who are unemployed and all are depending on her pension grant for survival.

“I am too old and life has not been easy for me. This house is my joy. If you can open my heart you will see how happy I am. The shack was too cold - especially during winter seasons and when it rains, it leaks as well. So this house means the end of the suffering,” she said.

The municipality has joined forces with a number of stakeholders to make Makhalemele’s dream come true. They include Community Development Workers, community members, Machike Construction and Kata Kata Building Construction. The house was built as part of the Community Housing Project.

In other activities, four households in Daveyton whose houses had been affected by severe weather conditions received some much-deserved attention when members of the mayoral committee and senior management from Ekurhuleni rolled up their sleeves doing good deeds as part of observing 67 minutes for Mandela campaign.

Thirty one families will from Monday be able to enjoy bathing in warm water as the municipality started installing low pressure solar water heaters in Palm Ridge, Vosloorus and Thokoza.

The municipality also handed over clothing and toiletry items at Zanele Mbeki Home (former Tienie Foster) in Dunnottar where some of the survivors of the Struisbult Care Centre fire which left people 12 dead over a month ago, are being accommodated. The items donated by employees.

The City of Ekurhuleni mobilised its workforce and local communities to dedicate 67 minutes of their time today and beyond to a good cause that will make a difference to other people’s lives

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