Ms. Nokwethemba Happiness Gumede 

 Ms. Nokwethemba Happiness Gumede 

Project Area: Umgababa, KwaZulu Natal 
Age: 59 

Ms Gumede moved to Mbumbulu in 1996. Her husband, Mtonjani Mhlongo passed away a few years ago. She currently resides with her son Njabulo Mhlongo (36) who is employed part time and three grandchildren; Avela (10), Asibonge (9) and Snoxolo (4). Ms Gumede originates from Ngonyameni. 

Ms Gumede is staying in an unstable two room house that pose dangers to the family. The house was affected by storms and left the electricity power box exposed. The family is currently not safe should the box gets water from rains.  

The family is desperately in need of intervention and are due to build with Habitat for Humanity SA in July 2020.  

“We are living in fear, the power box can explode anytime should there be rains. The room where the box was, was blown away by the wind and left the electricity box hanging and exposed. I would really appreciate to get a house. I have been waiting for this house for years and I hope that my prayers will be answered.” Ms Gumede is working at a neighbouring crèche. “The money that I am earning is too little, I cannot afford to build a house. I use it to buy food because I am not receiving support from the grandchildrens’ mothers,” Ms Gumede closes. 

We asked Ms Gumede a few questions regarding her experience amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and South Africa’s 21 Day Lockdown:                                                                                                                                             

  • How are you protecting yourselves from COVID-19? 

“These are challenging times; it is very difficult to control the kids from going outside the house. But I always stress the importance of washing hands every now and then and keeping the house clean. I couldn’t get sanitisers in the shops, so we are using soap.” 

  • Do you feel particularly vulnerable and in what ways? 

“We are really exposed and vulnerable because from time to time, we go to the shops to buy food. When the lockdown was announced, we couldn’t really prepare and buy food because I didn’t have money. I had to wait for the 1st of April so I can be able to buy. A lot of people came out during that time, to collect grants and pension money and social distancing wasn’t applied. I still believe lock-down is for rich people, who have everything in the house with enough food to last them for a long time.” 

  • What other ways has the virus impacted you? 

“I am a hustler; I do piece jobs since my job at the crèche ended. I am not making money since we are on lockdown, all places are closed, therefore I can’t really feed the kids.”