Slice of Life: Title does the deed

Denise Timm (62) moved in this house with her grandmother in 1979 and has just acquired the title deed for it from the new Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Denise Timm (62) moved in this house with her grandmother in 1979 and has just acquired the title deed for it from the new Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

I feel very good now that I got my title deed [last week]. Eish. I can’t express how I feel – I’m overwhelmed.
Even my granny never got a title deed; I’m the first one. Today we are going to celebrate with a nice meal.

Now we can build. I want to build a third room but not outside – I don’t want any outside rooms anymore.

I moved in with my granny from 1979. We were coming from the old Eldos [Eldorado Park, Johannesburg]. For me it was difficult to go to the toilet because it was outside. So my granny was given this house with the toilet inside.

I was 18 months old when I was paralysed. The lady that was looking after me put me on the table and she went to hang clothes. I was moving, moving, moving and then I fell. I also had the wrong operation, which made it worse. But I can use my hand.

I was 25 years old when I moved here. [The place] has two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Life was nice. It was comfortable … The toilet was inside.

I was not working but I had my own knitting business at home. I was 18 years old when I started.

When granny passed away in 1998, she gave me the house. It’s just me and my two sons. Ever since [then] I’ve been waiting for a title deed. I’m blessed because there were other family members who wanted to put me out. They even asked me if I had my title deed. I lied and said “ja” because they wanted to take my house away from me. Now, I’m glad that the house is belonging to me. – Denise Timm (62), as told to Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi began taking photos in 1998 with a pawnshop camera, before enrolling at the Market Photography Workshop. He began freelancing after graduating and has since run community projects, won a Bonani Africa award, had his work selected for exhibitions in Zimbabwe and Japan, and been invited to international workshops. He began at the M&G as an intern and is now chief photographer. He also writes features for the paper and lectures at his alma mater. Read more from Oupa Nkosi

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