In a narrow street in Sarepta, the air was thick with anticipation in the late morning on Mandela Day, Monday July 18. As cars tried to maneuvre their way in and out, often mounting the pavements, the residents sat in the sun and waited and waited and, as the sun loomed directly overhead, the crowd of onlookers grew bigger and bigger.
Resident Johanna Langenhoven, who lives at 9 Paul Street, paced up and down the path leading to her semi-detached maison-ette house. At the back of her house is a small piece of land and she was giving it to a friend she had known for 15 years to live on and was waiting for the truck delivering the building materials to arrive.
To cut a long story short, a group of benefactors, who help the community had decided that on Mandela Day they would help out Mina Smith, who not only had her legs amputated several years ago due to illness, but suffered a blow recently when the house in which she lived in neighbouring Kalkfontein burnt down and she lost everything.
Dawn Roode, a well-known Kuils River community figure, told Northern News the idea of helping the middle-aged woman had come about several months ago. She had been delivering an address at a memorial service for Zarah Hector, mother of two who was murdered on March 15, when she thought, “a life has been lost and all that goes with it and I thought, from this let’s give and also allow someone to start a new life, after one has been so tragically taken away”.
Those who were present at the memorial service took note of this, and two other active community members, Lynn Maasdorp and Gavin Botha, who are members of the Send to Serve Resource Centre, along with Ms Roode, decided Mandela Day would be the most appropriate day in which to commit to their act of goodwill.
Ms Maasdorp said Imvusa Trading supplied the building materials which consisted of Nutec sheets and wood strips and boards.
As a large truck managed to squeeze its way into the street, pushing onlookers off the pavement, a smiling Ms Smith, flanked by Ms Roode and Mr Botha, said she was completely happy and satisfied. A small team of builders started bringing the materials which included galvanised iron roof sheets onto the property, and work started almost immediately to put together Ms Smith’s new home.
Ms Roode said the plan was to complete the house, which would measure 3m x 3m, in a day. A beaming Ms Smith said she was not sure where she would sleep that night, but within 30 minutes of the truck arriving, the floor was already well on its way to completion, as construction worker Louis Kotze expertly hammered the wooden staves together that would form the floor support.
Other residents were also able to join in the celebrations as a group from PanSolutions from Parow Industria, brought two boxes of more than 100 hotdogs which they handed out, and a group of seniors also joined in, some of whom live in the adjacent streets. Dina Howard, who turned 90 on Sunday and lives across the road, and her friend Nora de Kock, 106 years old, who lives a few streets away, were just two of the elderly who enjoyed the festivities.
The final cherry on the top was a batch of freshly-baked cakes, complete with colourful icing, that was delivered by some of the neighbours. Monday July 18, showed that a small street with big actions could demonstrate that Madiba and what he stood for lives on the hearts of many.