I remember going with my father, to areas in Soweto where people were living in shacks in the early 90s to provide the residents there with canned food and clean water and try to assist to clean up the area. It was unbelievable that people living so close to where we stayed, were living in such dire conditions. They had no water, toilets or electricity, and the stench of inadequate sewage facilities was intolerable.

Added to that were the countless stories of several shacks burning down, especially in winter, as a fire spread rapidly between neighbouring shacks, sometimes killing or severely injuring people living there. It was unhealthy and unsafe.

The need for RDP housing (Reconstruction and Development Programme) to replace all the shacks in South Africa became increasingly apparent, especially for citizens who earn less than R3,000 a month and can therefore not purchase a home themselves. Unfortunately, over the years, the procedure to provide low cost housing to these residents has, for many reasons, taken way too long.

So, on a recent site visit I was thrilled to see that the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) along with the Department of Human Settlement are utilising Mobile Processing Solutions (MPS) mobiles to travel to shack populated communities and allow residents to register and complete their own RDP housing applications.

The residents, especially the elders, are overwhelmed with gratitude for the mobiles coming to their areas and bringing this service they require so desperately to them. They are unable to travel long distances to apply for housing and would probably not be able to even apply for housing if it wasn’t for the mobile service.

As the GDED mobiles continue with this initiative in and around Gauteng, I hope that the government will continue to come up with solutions to ensure all South Africans own a house where they get to enjoy their basic human rights of access to clean water and electricity. I know the MPS mobile solution is one such avenue.