Four dozen people share one home

A Beacon Valley family of 47 people share a home.

One of the golden rules for curbing the spread of Covid-19 is maintaining physical distancing. But how do you do that when 47 people live on a single property?

“It is difficult living in a space with so many people at a time,” says Yolanda Daniels, 37.

“My fear is that if Covid-19 enters our home, we may end up all getting it. It hasn’t been easy since lockdown started.”

Ms Daniels is one of the 47 living on the Beacon Valley property. Together they represent eight families, seven of whom have applied to the City of Cape Town for housing.

One of those who have applied is Roshaana Fataar who is eligible for the Beacon Valley Housing Project. The rest are still on the waiting list.

The owners of the home, Charles and Denise May, live with their eight children, their spouses, and 27 grandchildren. There are 20 adults living on the property on which are three wendy houses and a maisonette house.

Two of the grandchildren are currenty back at school – one in matric and one in Grade 7. They follow the golden rules on keeping safe from Covid-19, when they get to school and when they get home.

But it’s difficult, says Mr May.

“Alles is gedruk. I cannot afford for my family to be out on the street.”

Celine May, 12, who is in Grade 7 at Alpine Primary School says returning to school has been a big adjustment for her.

“It is great at school but I am getting used to the sanitising of hands, feet and physical distancing from my friends.”

Celine’s mother, Shireen May, says she was concerned about the reopening of schools and only sent her daughter back a week after they had opened.

“It’s not easy living like this. If our councillor could help us, it would be appreciated. All of us have families in this house, and we’ve been on the waiting list for a long time. I have been on it for 11 years,” says Ms May.

When it rains, she says, their driveway floods and the water runs downhill into their homes.

Founder and director at Nehemiah Call organisation in Beacon Valley, Pastor Dean Ramjoomia, says he was made aware of the family’s plight through a community member. He saw the many children playing in the yard and noticed a problem, he says.

And the family shared their concerns about their living conditions with him.

“This family is at risk of Covid-19 and outside it is damp and wet. This could be a disaster if the necessary people do not come out to help them,” says Mr Ramjoomia.

He is ensuring that they are getting the necessary help during this time. Everyone in the home needs to get tested for Covid-19.

A full assessment was done by the Department of Social Development. There was no risk to children or adults in the home, he says.

Regional manager for Metro South for the Department of Social Development, Quinton Arendse, says their office has made contact with the family.

“I am thankful to the pastor for heeding the call to this family. We have started an intervention process that will be ongoing. Our department has identified more departments to help the family,” says Mr Arendse.