Mandela Day: Jubilation erupts after Zuma visits Danville community


JOHANNESBURG: (By Nina Mariya)– It was a day filled with laughter, tears of joy and song, when President Jacob Zuma visited the community of Danville in Pretoria.

The President’s visit coincides with Mandela Day, and takes place as part of the day’s theme of providing shelter to those in need.

Zuma officially launched the Danville settlement in Pretoria West, where low-income families, both black and white, are the recipients of new homes.

The mood was joyous as President Zuma was received with singing and ululating from community members.This is the place where six more families were officially handed over their homes after many years of challenges for accommodation.

The Danville settlement houses families that used to reside at Bethlehem informal settlement in Pretoria West, which was occupied by poor white families as well as other families residing in Road Reserves in the Attridgeville area, and other areas in Pretoria Central and West.

Magta Croukamp, who is one of the recipients of a house, became very emotional when asked how she felt to have a place to call home.

Croukamp had travelled for 11 years around the country with her fiancé, Jacob Kroen, looking for a stable place to live. She moved into her two bedroom house in the settlement in May this year. She shares the home with her fiancé and brother Johan Croukamp.

“We cannot thank the President enough for sticking to his word. We have suffered for a long time. We were robbed 49 times while staying on the streets. At times, people tried to kill us for our luggage and clothing. I want to thank God and the President for sticking to his word,” said Croukamp in tears.

“Mandela Day will always be special to us. We would like to say Mandela must get better. We are keeping him in our prayers.”

The former President has been in hospital since June 8 to get treatment for a recurring lung infection.

This was the third time that the President was visiting residents of Bethlehem. They expressed their gratitude to him for being “a man of his word”.

Leone Heck, 51, who jumped at the President in excitement, said she knew that her house was on its way.

“President Zuma is … a good man who keeps his promises. He visited our area before and promised houses and he is delivering. It is excellent that he is trying to help everyone just like Mandela did,” said Heck, who continued to sing songs in excitement.

Crissie Nel, who did not have a house for 10 years, told the President she wanted a house when he visited the community.

“When I told people around me that I asked the President for a house, everyone told me to forget about ever getting a house. I was so happy when I moved in. Thank you President Zuma for keeping your promise,” said Nel, who lives with her husband in her new home.

In Danville, there is a spirit of togetherness: children race down the newly built streets in their bikes along RDP houses painted in green, grey and light pink.

President Zuma said he was touched by the way he was received in Danville.

“This is what we want to see happening in the country. There is a genuine expression of satisfaction. We are giving houses to all the nation’s groups. South Africa belongs to all who live in it. I am happy to see what is happening today. Even those still waiting for their houses will get their houses,” the President said.

He was moved by stories from housing beneficiaries, who told him it was the first time they were sleeping in a proper house.

President Zuma was accompanied by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Monkonyane when handing over the homes.

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