Up to a third of all RDP houses in Philippi’s Samora Machel area could be illegally occupied, a recent report by the provincial Human Settlements Department has revealed.This follows a four month investigation by the department into the occupation of state-subsidised housing in Samora Machel and Mandela Park in Khayelitsha.
The department’s report, which was completed two weeks ago but released to West Cape News this week, noted that in Samora Machel 1457 out of 4139 (35%) houses were potentially illegally occupied.
The breakdown of the figures revealed that officials were refused entry to 527 houses while the occupiers of 197 houses allowed officials in but refused to answer specific questions.
It was discovered that 235 houses were sold in violation of the national department’s pre-emptive rights clause forbidding the sale of state subsidized houses for the first eight years of their occupation, and the owners could not provide legally binding sales documents.
Furthermore, 498 houses remained unaccounted for as there was no-one home despite a minimum of three visits by officials.
The figures given by Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela’s spokesperson Zalisile Mbali showed that housing in Mandela Park was also in a parlous state.
Of the 1 385 RDP houses surveyed, 684 were legally occupied, with the status of a large number of the remaining 701 houses remaining unknown.
The occupants of 187 of the 701 remaining houses were supposedly renting, but could produce no documentation to back up their claim.
There was no-one home at 457 of the houses and six houses remained vacant.
Squatters had illegally moved into 51 of the Mandela Park houses.
Mbali said many of the people claiming to be renting their RDP house said the official owners were living in other cities such as Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, or had moved back to villages in the Eastern Cape.
Some said the official owners had moved into shacks in Khayelitsha Site C and lived on the rental paid to them.
He said the survey revealed that a number of housing beneficiaries sold their houses in violation of the department’s pre-emptive rights clause.
The beneficiaries sold their houses for a number of reasons, he said, ranging from shoddy building work to needing cash for the funerals of deceased relatives.
Most of the people who claimed to have bought the RDP house they occupied had no title deeds proving their ownership although some had affidavits from the police.
However, Mbali said before making recommendations, the department wanted to engage with the relevant communities.
“The MEC has interrogated the information on the report and we will call the communities involved and tell them of the findings and discuss with them the way forward,” said Mbali.
“We are happy that the survey has been completed because now we know who we are dealing with and what we will need to do.”
Mandela Park backyarders Association coordinator Khaya Xintolo said they welcomed the conclusion of the study but were waiting for Madikizela to present it to them.
“We don’t know what is recommended in the findings and we want Madikizela to come here and tell us what the results mean for us, as backyarders,” said Xintolo.
This investigation comes after a Khayelitsha woman, 35, who is known to West Cape News, revealed that she was part of a syndicate illegally selling RDP houses to unsuspecting individuals.
The woman, who was a Sanco executive committee members at the time she sold the RDP houses, said the houses were sold from between R5 000 and R11 000 depending on the site and whether construction on the house was completed or not.
Ardiel Soeker, acting programme director for the Development Action Group (DAG), said the findings illustrate the inappropriateness of the formal tenure system for the low income housing market.
“The formal tenure system is inaccessible, financially burdensome and does not take into account the realities of the low income housing market where housing is frequently transacted through extra-legal means.
”The continuation of this formal, legally onerous process is based on the erroneous belief that building asset capital through the provision of title will deliver people from poverty. In reality, the opposite is happening,” said Soeker.
He said between the formal tenure system and reality on the ground needed to be addressed to ensure tenant security and reduce fraud and corruption. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News