Life in a Bulawayo squatter camp

The Chronicle

Tafadzwa Chibukwa, Chronicle Reporter

WITH shacks and mud huts assembled crudely from discarded pallets, wooden doors, rusty metal and plastic sheets, it is a shanty town.

There is no running water, and no sign of electricity, one would definitely think twice about living there but the slum dwellers have made cramped overcrowded shacks at Killarney squatter camp home.

A Chronicle news crew visiting the illegal settlement recently established that hunger, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies, and prostitution are rampant at this squatter camp.

In an interview, one of the dwellers at the illegal settlement, Caroline Ncube (63) said the living conditions at the slum were not conducive.

Life at a Squatter camp

She said living there exposed them to a lot of unimaginable things.
“Living in this community is not easy; it exposes us to many situations that we don’t wish to happen. There are a lot of criminal activities taking place. Some are into prostitution and there’s a lot of infidelity that happens in this compound. The people in the community have generally been infiltrated by the idea of a slum into thinking that there’s no law to punish them hence they can practise all forms of criminality,” said Ncube.

She said unemployment had driven her to the illegal settlement.
“If I had a proper job, I wouldn’t be living in this slum because I don’t like the environment at all. There’s a disgusting smell but I have no choice but to stay here with my orphaned grandchild. I do piece jobs in order to put food on the table,” said Ncube.
25-year-old Violet Mpofu shared her touching story.

She said having grown up under the care of her grandmother at her rural home in Insiza, she decided to join her mother’s sister in Bulawayo in 2014, little did she know she was in for a tough time.

“I grew up in Insiza where I lived with my grandmother but I decided to come to town to look for employment. My quest for a job was futile. I couldn’t get a job because I don’t have any academic qualifications since I stopped going to school when I was in Grade Seven.

I couldn’t proceed because I don’t have a birth certificate. I have never met my parents and this presents a lot of challenges for me,” said Mpofu.

She added that her failure to acquire a birth certificate has complicated things more for her as she has a child who is in need of a birth certificate as well.

“What worries me is that my problems are now affecting my child who can’t get a birth certificate because I don’t have one as well. I’m stuck here because I’m unemployed neither do I have anyone to go to,” said Mpofu.

Lovemore Maveza (50) said he started living at the illegal settlement in 1998.
He said he moved there because he was a gold panner in the area and has always been operating at an illegal mine nearby.

“Most of the people who live here are poor and some of them are homeless, that’s why they got shelter at the slum. Because we live on menial jobs, we don’t have enough money to pay for accommodation so we chose to live here.

“Most end up joining the illegal mining activities at a nearby mine in order for them to be able to make a living,” said Maveza.
There are some optimistic settlers at the squatter camp in Killarney who have become the glue holding the community together. They grow vegetables and spread their love among their down-and-out neighbours.

Visitors to these sites often hear woeful tales from the residents and their harrowing cries for a better life.
Often, people complain about the unsanitary conditions and safety issues around the camp. People living in appalling conditions are not without the criminal element lurking around. Theft and violence have become regular occurrences.

The place is filled with skinny children running around, clearly giving signs that hunger and malady are the order of the day.
The children are prone to pneumonia, diarrhoea and other infections judging from the community’s surroundings.

While most children do have the opportunity to go to school, their parents, under pressure to support the family, send them to beg for money from motorists passing by.

Life at a Squatter camp

Charities, churches and individuals routinely donate food and clothing to these informal settlements. On the occasions when people bearing the necessities visit the shack dwellers, the faces of the excited children light up with joy.

That was the case when Zimbabwe Young Graduates and Youth Development Forum members visited the illegal settlement recently.

The Killarney squatter community received a post-Christmas gift from Zimbabwe Youth Graduates and Youth Development Forum association members who donated clothes to the neglected community.

Zimbabwe Young Graduates and Youth Development Forum Chairman, Solomon Mandaza told Chronicle that as part of their social responsibility, they took it upon themselves to give back to the slum community.

“Zimbabwe Young Graduates and Youth Development Forum is an organisation that vouches for socio-economic change through a social contract of actively participating and complementing Government efforts in its quest to achieve the National Development Strategy (NDS1 & 2). In this spirit, we chose to donate to the Killarney squatter camp community, which we felt needed the provision,” said Mandaza. @Sagepapie14

Article Source: The Chronicle

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