112-year-old granny receives house

The Kopanong Local Municipality has built a modern, big and environmentally friendly RDP house for a local pensioner who has had to share a small, humble home with her son and her grandchildren for many years.

The new house handed to the 112-year-old granny, Matshotleho Smouse, from Lephoi township near Bethulie, is part of the Free State provincial human settlements department’s project to build over 300 “green” RDP houses in the area.

Smouse was ecstatic when she received keys to her new four-roomed house from Kopanong Local Municipality mayor Xolile Matwa and Xhariep District Municipality mayor Mongi Ntwanambi on Monday.

She thanked the local, district and provincial government authorities for pulling together their resources to ensure that she and her grandchildren have a decent house to call home after many years of suffering and battling harsh weather, especially during winter and rainy days.

Smouse said the house had brought back her dignity.

“I felt undignified staying with my son, his family and my grandchildren in a tiny house,” she said.

“I was denying them their privacy and freedom and myself as well.

“But my son had no choice but to accommodate me and his family – I would like to thank him a lot for being so caring.”

“I did not believe it when the government promised me that they would build me a new house after learning about my situation,” Smouse added.

“I am moving into this new house with my grandson and believe that I will die with dignity.

“I am so delighted and joyful to set my foot in the new house. I now have something to leave my grandchildren when I die thanks to the government.”

Ntwanambi said the government was determined to ensure it delivered on one of its apex priorities – providing housing to the poor in South Africa.

“The government will be building 301 other houses in the area for first-time beneficiaries,” Ntwanambi said.

“However, Smouse’s house was the first to be built after we learnt about her peculiar situation.

“This is a demonstration of the type of a house the rest of the RDP beneficiaries are going to receive in the near future.”

Matwa said the housing project was expected to start soon and would see all the houses installed with solar panels to generate electricity.

“People here will no longer need to buy electricity because their houses will be installed with solar panels and that means they will save more money to spend on other basic necessities,” Matwa said.

According to project director Charles Kim, jobs will be created for locals during the construction of the houses as well as the installation and the maintenance of solar panels.

“Many people will get jobs from this project with some getting permanent employment to maintain the solar panels,” Kim said.

“We want to uplift their lives by giving them skills that they will use to get future employment long after the project has been completed.”