Painting shacks for Mandela Day

More than a hundred volunteers joined Thula Thula Hout Bay, NGO Lalela and British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa in painting shacks in Imizamo Yethu on Mandela Day.

The intention was to paint the shacks with fire retardant in order to prevent any future fires from spreading rapidly in the settlement. In March this year, more than 10 000 people were displaced by one of the worst fires in Hout Bay’s history.

With many shacks having been rebuilt in Madiba Square, residents offered the volunteers a chance to paint their homes, both with retardant and bright colours. The homeowners selected their choice of colour, before teams of 12 tackled the challenge with brushes and paint.

Thula Thula’s Joanne Chemaly said Imizamo Yethu had experienced tremendous hardship in the past few months.

“For some residents in Madiba Square, fires meant they lost their homes twice within a three-month period. The fire retardant will help slow the flames, and buy us some time,” she said.

“This day is about having fun – many of you will leave here covered in purple and blue because those are the most popular colours for our residents – but it is also about building relationships with the people of our community.”

BAT South Africa chief executive Soraya Benchikh said by participating in the day, volunteers were honouring Nelson Mandela’s legacy. “This is a fantastic initiative. And please, take selfies but don’t forget to paint the houses,” she quipped.

Spur was also on board for the day, given the hashtag #PaintingTheTimeSafe on social media, and donated hamburger vouchers for the homeowners and volunteers.

Also in attendance was Mkhululi Ndude, leader of the IY Movement and brother of Songezo
Ndude who lost his life in the housing protest earlier this month (“Protest violence claims life”, Sentinel,
July 7).

While Mr Ndude appreciated the efforts of the volunteers, he was concerned that as a community leader he had not been consulted.

“We understand that big companies do things like this on Mandela Day, but we need to be consulted. We need to know who the big companies are. It is painful to be asked questions by residents about what’s going on, and we don’t have answers because we haven’t been consulted. We request that NGOs engage us on events such as this.”