The names of the respondents have been changed to keep the identities of the respondents confidential.

Avela Gumede a 41-year-old male resident at the Betrams resident was one of the bricklayers involved in the renovation process. When asked about his experience at the residence, he said. “before it was terrible, as different people tried to put together resources to repair windows, electricity, paint the wall and install a new security gate”. He explained how rainwater would go into rooms destroying furniture, such that they ended up not buying expensive furniture anymore because they feared it would be damaged by the water. He further went to highlight how walls would end up cracking and some collapsing.

As if the trouble wasn’t enough, he opined how many different people claimed to asset the building at the same time threatening them to evacuate the building, claiming that the building is a priority block for shops. Some would come with the police, but when challenged by the residence to produce documentation they would not produce any evidence. In turn, they would pull together their hard-earned resources to engage a state lawyer to fight their case. He continued to reiterate how to date different self-claimed owners still want them out of the building.

“Some of us have 25 years staying in this building” he asserted. He maintained his stance that many people living in the building worked in the city and found the building’s vicinity to the city being a cost saver. He went on to reiterate how so many long-staying residents raised their families in the building, and how some have their children learning in Betrams, and if relocated would struggle to find a nearby place to learn for their children.

Themba Mavuso is a 37-year-old long-staying male resident, expressed his delight towards the renovations, saying he was being involved in the renovation process, which empowered and energized him. From his experience, he strongly emphasized that if there was a possibility to have a governing body on which they could pay a small amount of rent, the building will be managed a lot better. This followed his remarks towards the delinquent state of the building seen through the toilets that don’t flush. He said people have to use buckets and for old people and those who are stout, it is difficult for them to move up and down with buckets. He also mentioned that the shared sink for washing dishes was destroyed and there is a need to reinstate it. As part of the recommendations to mitigate the water crisis, he recommended that Jojo tanks were a better option as they could harvest all the water from the roof and store it for the flushing of toilets. He also suggested if the roof could have a shed to sell food together with a bottle store. As Themba was being interviewed, one of his friends interjected saying a bottle store would attract vandalism problems from residents who would have exceeded their drinking limit. They went on to say the same victims who drink till late are the ones who damaged the gate, which was normally locked at 10 pm, as part of a security measure.

Themba vowed his sentiments towards harassment of residents by metro police. These residents are skilled artisans who try to make a living by fixing cars in the buildings’ front yard. He says metro police say oil spillages that come from the cars make the road dirty. On a more brighter note, when Themba was asked what changed in the building would make it good, he said a swimming pool on the roof, would be the perfect improvement because of the heat.

Ms. Akhona Simelane, of unit 6, aged 47 was one of the residents who were happy with the renovations. She indicated highlighted, “What makes Betrams area, the ideal place of residence, is its short proximity to the city”. One should bear in mind that people don’t earn much from the jobs they work, therefore the opportunity to cut transport costs goes a long way. When asked what she would change to make the building better, she vowed the need to have security, water, and metered electricity. She said before the building was a good place to stay because there was water near. Now she must go downstairs to fetch water to bathe and flush the toilet. She pointed out an interesting point, that before when the property owner was around, everything was well managed from electricity water and security, but one he left everything deteriorated. She also reiterated the point that she doesn’t mind paying a small amount as rent to help maintain the building to be what it was before. In the spirit of delight and gratitude, she expressed her heartfelt gratitude towards the funders of the renovation and encouraged them to keep up the good work.

-Tawanda Dhlakama