Durban – A destitute man living in a dilapidated mud hut in the Tafelkop forest near Pinetown had his dignity restored on Thursday when he was handed keys to a brand new home.
Thulani Cele, 50, said he endured summer rain and winter cold for years after his house, which was built with clay soil, started collapsing.
Cele’s house was surrounded by a thicket and dangerous snakes, including green mambas and cobras, were often found searching for water and mice around the house.
The unemployed man did piece jobs, like clearing bushes and cutting grass for neighbours, to earn money for food. He also had to fetch water from a nearby stream.
On Thursday morning, thanks to businessman and former Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo and his foundation, Cele stepped into his two-bedroom home.
The house is furnished with a lounge and kitchen suite, a double bed and a two-plate stove. Construction was completed within a month during the lockdown period.
Local businessmen Ndumiso Mazibuko and Thulani Nxumalo helped Njilo buy building materials and install electricity in the house.
Njilo, who has built more than 50 houses and donated to poor rural households, heard about the man’s plight from Mazibuko who learned about Cele on television.
Cele said for the first time he will sleep on a bed and cook his meal using an electric stove in a safe house.
“I feel like my dignity is being retained. Thanks to Njilo and the team for making my dream a reality. I am no longer worried about snakes, summer rain and cold winter,” said Cele.
Njilo said he had been working for the community for most of his life and the fact that Cele finally had a home of his own, made him “very happy”
He said the support from his partners had led to the successful completion of the house.
“I cannot turn a blind eye when I see a person live in abject poverty. Safe shelter and accommodation is the most basic thing that a person should have,” said Njilo.
Njilo praised Gugu Xhakaza, the owner of VUVU NDVD Construction, who constructed the house at no cost.
Xhakaza said she was grateful that Cele finally had his own home.