‘I cry and pray every day’

Rashieda Stellenboom is desperate for decent housing, as her daughter, Nashieka Klassien, 4, has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and their current living conditions is not conducive to her health.

A Kewtown single mother is desperate for decent housing as their current living conditions could be to the detriment of the health of her 4-year-old daughter, who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Rashieda Stellenboom said her daughter, Nashieka Klassien, was born a healthy baby, but at just six weeks old, she contracted bacterial meningitis, and she spent almost two months in hospital to be treated for this.

Ms Stellenboom said doctors explained to her that the meningitis led to Nashieka’s cerebral palsy.

“That is when I found out that she will never be able to do something for herself,” Ms Stellenboom said.

Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe form of cerebral palsy, and it means the inability to use the legs, arms and body. It is caused by brain damage either before birth, during or shortly thereafter. In Nashieka’s case, the bacterial meningitis led to it.

Nashieka cannot speak, and she also has profound hearing loss, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and has chronic constipation.

Ms Stellenboom was forced to give up her job, as her youngest daughter’s condition requires full-time care.

She shares the small wendy house with Nashieka and her 13-year-old daughter and 20-year-old son. The wendy house is in a bad state, with no sanitation or water. During winter it leaks, and in summer, the heat is unbearable.

A letter from a doctor at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital explains that Nashieka’s condition could be aggravated by poor living conditions.

Ms Stellenboom has only been on the City of Cape Town’s housing waiting list since 2011, but she is requesting prioritisation for housing, based on her daughter’s medical condition.

“I’ve been to social workers and doctors have written letters explaining Nashieka’s condition. I understand there is a long list of people needing housing, and I have been told at the local housing office that I must just wait like anybody else. I cry and I pray every day. All I want is help,” Ms Stellenboom said.

Brett Herron, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said requests like these must be submitted to the City’s housing allocation committee “for deliberations and a decision”.

He confirmed that the City considers special needs cases with housing projects, adding that the percentage of housing allocated to special needs cases, is decided upon by the project steering committee of a particular housing project.

“We currently have more than 6 000 records (on the City’s database) that indicate a special need,” Mr Herron said.

Ms Stellenboom can submit a motivation to the chairperson of the allocation committee he added.