I was recently commissioned to take architectural photos of some property for Lightbodys. Lightbodys is a property company that buys and renovates derelict properties in Pietermaritzburg. Once complete they manage very affordable, quality inner-city accommodation in those properties. The alternative is shocking. I have added photos of slum type houses so that you can see what these houses looked like before they were restored.
Making a Difference to Property
The difference that Lightbodys is making is astounding. If you compare their properties to the surrounding properties they are providing more than a good service. The properties are constantly being maintained so they look really good. The gardens are well maintained and there is no garbage lying around in the gardens or on the sidewalks.
Every unit has its own prepaid electricity meter and many of the units have been fitted with solar water heaters. The interior common areas like the lounges, kitchens and ablutions are kept clean by full-time cleaning staff.
These properties are all old houses that were housing, in some cases, over 3 people per room and were basically falling apart.
How the Others Live
There are many old properties in these areas that are in a poor state, housing too many people with no electricity. I noticed in a couple of cases that electricity is being ‘borrowed’.
A resident of one house said that there are 21 rooms and between 40 and 60 people living in the house.
They have one bathroom and no hot water.
Most windows in the house are broken.
Grey water lying around in pools.
Faeces was noted in a couple of places…There are no dogs.
The residents cook on crudely wired 2-plate stoves (In this case I didn’t see where the power was coming from) or gas stoves in their crowded rooms.
If they need another room they just make it with sheets of chipboard or steel sheeting.
There is a lot of very unhealthy looking mould on walls and ceilings.
Garbage is scattered all over the open areas.
The smell is terrible.
No self-respecting human should be living there.
The owner of the property sends a representative once a month to collect cash from the residents and provides no other service other than creating a slum. These areas have become dangerous to live in. I felt really uncomfortable walking through the dark house. I was more worried about what might fall on me or what I might trip over than the potential of being mugged.
The Municipality is not doing anything obvious to rectify the situation. Don’t let the light showing on the photos deceive you. I was using a flash.
If the authorities will not do anything about the situation it is up to businesses and individuals. The work that Lightbodys is doing is making a massive difference to the inner-city.