There was much debate and interest in the rural town of Karatara (Knysna) after I blogged that the government had decided that its approximate 1000 residents were a non-viable community and that there would be no housing for at least 10 years.
Today, I’m hoping to show you the human aspect, something you can relate to.
I’ve been to Karatara several times but driving through and out is not the same as walking and talking to its residents.
At a Wimpy meeting with ICOSA, Knysnas newest political contenders, they mentioned that they were off to visit Bosdorp, the coloured section of Kararata. As I hadn’t been there, I asked to tag along. That trip extended into the town centre and across to the other side where life for humans seems utterly miserable.
In Bosdorp, I only spoke to one resident who pointed out the extremely poor condition of the dirt roads.
In town, I met a family of 8 who had had no electricity and water for 2 years. Odd because the neighbours were connected, meaning that supply was near. Instead, this family was having to use a field as a toilet and fetch water from a tap near a municipal office approximately 1km away.
Sanna Morris, an old lady, lived on that property with 3 other adults and 4 children (2 her family, 2 not). She knew hardly any English and I wasn’t accustomed to her rough Afrikaans but I slowly understood that her situation had deteriorated in 2010 after her husband, a farmworker, had died and she’d been told to leave the farm. She and her family had then become squatters on this property on the corner of George Weg and Elm Laan. With a wooden house built, they were accepted as residents.
The children moved me the most. One seemed to have foetal alcohol syndrome yet was most caring towards the baby. Whereas everyone was a bit awkward (yet fascinated) with me the stranger, the toddler and i instantly bonded. A little bit of attention made him glow and laugh. He would often hug my leg.
Sanna complained that no one would help her get connected. ICOSA said they’d tried to help her by approaching the Municipality but felt rejected because they weren’t part of the Democratic Alliance which ruled the town. They said that helping this family was more important than anyone’s politics, including theirs. If that was the case, I agree.
There is a severe housing shortage in Karatara overall. Out of desperation, a family had built a shack on the edge of town, out of view of the road and any passerby’s, in an area called Bodorp (not to be confused with ‘BoSdorp’). But their home was torn down and no one could tell me who had done so as no court order had been shown.
20m away was a shocking shack. Muddy water threatened the rusted, tin walls. She wasn’t in but I was told that the resident was an old, sickly lady.
I don’t believe that the Knysna Council of politicians is fully aware of the conditions in Kararata. Decisions, by most, are being made far away. Alleviating poverty is difficult but I wonder if there would be some difference to a few lives if our politicians visited in person. Surely, for example, the levelling of a gravel road is a simple task to accomplish?
Please read: ‘Knysna Housing Shortage: 21 People in 1 House’