IT never rains, but pours, literally, for illegal settlers living at Killarney squatter camp, as many have been left homeless following the heavy rains that Bulawayo has been receiving over the past weeks.
The distressed squatters, whose makeshift homes, made out of a combination of mud, broken asbestos sheets and corrugated iron, said their lives have become more miserable as they have been left homeless, following rains that washed away their shelters.
“This is the worst period of our lives,” Soneni Moyo, an illegal settler said.
“For the years we have stayed here, we dread the rainy season, as it really makes us feel like nothing.
“As we speak, some of our houses were destroyed by the rain and for the past days we had to put up in the open as we cannot share accommodation with our neighbours.”
Moyo said during the night they had to cover themselves with bags and plastics, although this hardly sheltered them from the inclement weather.
Rosina Sibanda, said they have been forced to relocate to areas where some have been evicted in the past.
“There are certain areas where we are not supposed to settle, but because the camp is already full, there is nothing we can do, but settle at areas where many people have been evicted by the local authority and farm owners,” she said.
“When we get the building material to construct our shacks, we will just build and hope that we will not be evicted because there is nowhere else we can go.”
Mehluli Gumede said the heavy rains have affected drinking water, as dirty water has been flowing into streams which are their only source of water.
“Here at the camp we have no toilets and we make use of the bush,” he said.
“Whenever it rains, the water flows with all the dirt into the streams and it is the same water we use for drinking.”
Gumede said they had no choice but to continue getting their water from the polluted streams, despite the looming threat of an outbreak of waterborne diseases.
Happiness Nyathi said it was disheartening to note that the government had forgotten about squatters, as they have not heard from it in a while.
“What pains us the most is that the government has forgotten about us,” she said.
“We cannot even remember the last time we heard from any government official. We want the government to know that we are not at peace with them and we want it to address our concerns because we are also human beings.”
And as they say, even the darkest cloud has a silver lining, the squatters said due to the heavy rains, they are expecting a bumper harvest that will address food shortages they sometimes face.