Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSAf) renovated and extended the derelict, unsafe one room house of an elderly woman who lives with her 17-year-old granddaughter, in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth.

The extension to the one room house of Nosheleni Ncanywa (80) was built from 90% recycled materials from Isuzu’s manufacturing plant. The house now includes two bedrooms, an indoor bathroom, a study, a kitchen with a pantry area, a living room, a dining room and running water. 

According to Elvis Mongezi Hermans, IMSAf Senior Vice President of Human Capital and Corporate Services, the living circumstances of Ncanywa was discovered when his church group visited the Gqebera community late last year. “What I saw that day when I visited the gogo’s house, touched my heart. I presented her living conditions to my colleagues at work and immediately a plan of action was crafted,” said Hermans.

He explained that this project addresses a key element of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals number 10 (Reduced Inequality) by providing shelter, food, clean water and energy and improved living conditions aimed at restoring human dignity.

“IMSAf’s waste philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle is an integral part of our environmental management and Ncanywa’s new house echoes our philosophy. I believe that we have restored the dignity and living conditions of these two people,” said Hermans.

IMSAf partnered with Kevin Kimwelle, community architect and social entrepreneur, who collects waste and discarded materials from informal recyclers and local businesses for building purposes. The building materials used for this house were waste materials collected from IMSAf’s waste yard. As a landfill free company, who regards environmental management as key business priority, IMSAf recycles 95% of its waste generated at its operations in Port Elizabeth. The 5% non-recyclable waste is sent to an energy recovery facility in Johannesburg.

The building materials such as metal frames, metal sheets and wood which Kimwelle collected from the waste yard were re-engineered and repurposed for the structure.

The architect created a passive design so that the building can breathe – the house warms itself in winter and is cool in summer. Moreover, he created the space ensuring as much natural light is brought into the building so that it uses less energy.

IMSAf Corporate Communications Manager, Gishma Johnson, said the project was made possible through partnerships. IMSAf’s employees volunteered their labour over weekends, while local truck dealer, Isuzu Truck Centre (ITC) Port Elizabeth, provided a truck to transport the waste from IMSAf to the waste rework facility and to the building site. Accommodation for Ncanywa and her grand-daughter, Sikhunjulwe, during the tear-down and construction phase was provided by The Home Market at the Walmer Links Apartments close to Walmer Township. “We are extremely grateful to Lance del Monte and team from The Home Market and Brian Riddle from ITC PE for their support. The collaboration resulted in a project which we can all be proud of,” said Johnson. 

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