News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

City councillor charged fraudulently selling houses to Crossroads residents

Standing in front of one of the houses ward councillor Thobile Gqola allegedly promised to some residents in exchange for R7 000 is, from left to right, Luvuyo Hlanjwa, Sindiswa Matsu, Sibongile Jikwana and Nomveliso Matsu. Hlanjwa and Nomveliso Matsu have laid criminal charges against Gqola this week. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

Two Crossroads residents have opened a criminal case against a City ward councillor this week in relation to the illegal sale of state-subsided housing.

A number of residents say they were told they could obtain houses in the Philippi East Phase 5 housing project if they paid Ward 35 councillor Thobile Gqola R7 000 to be placed on the beneficiary list.

But when Gqola reneged on his promises after receiving the money last year, and then laid a charge of intimidation against one of the residents who was persistent in demanding her money back, she and another resident laid criminal charges against him on Thursday at the Philippi East police station.

One of the people who laid a charge, Nomveliso Matsu, said she had been living as a backyarder in Lower Crossroads block 9 when in June last year a neighbour suggested she talk to the ward councillor, Gqola.

“I went to his office I explained my situation, the councillor promised to give me one of the five houses he had from phase five,” said Matsu.

She said he told her the houses were “extras” and later told her she needed to pay him R7 000 in order to receive it.

She said when he told her about the R7 000 payment, she was in the company of a friend of hers, Sibongile Jikwana, who was also a friend of Gqola’s.

“She (Jikwana) knew the councillor, that’s why he was willing to help me. The councillor said this must stay between us.”

She said Gqola also told her he needed three more people to move into vacant houses but they needed to be residing outside the Lower Crossroads area.

Matsu said she organised her sister Sindiswa to take a house, and Sindiswa organised two of her friends.

“We all gave him our ID copies because he said he was going to check with the housing board.”

Matsu said with Jikwana as a witness, she paid Gqola an initial amount of R4 000, as did her sister Sindiswa.

Jikwana confirmed she was the witness to the transaction.

The remaining R6 000 for her and Sindiswa’s house was paid via Jikwana in September last year and delivery of the houses was promised for December.

“But later he changed his statement and said we will move in January,” said Matsu.

“He called in January saying he’s not forgotten, we will get our houses. On the 24th January I went to his office. He ignored me. He said he does not know me. I was so surprised with his reaction but I thought he was joking. Again Friday of that week I called him asking for an explanation, he was so rude. He said I must leave him alone, he does not know me. That’s when I started to panic. All I asked was my money back if things did not go according to plan. On that weekend I was called by the police saying the councillor has laid charges against me.”

Matsu said in front of the police Gqola denied knowing her and claimed she’d been following him in different cars.

“I don’t understand why he lied, he could have given me my money back,” said Matsu.

She said she approached Sanco for help but when none was forthcoming she opened a case against Gqola on Thursday.

The other Crossroads resident who laid charges against Gqola on Thursday is Luvuyo Hlanjwa.

“After I heard houses were sold for R7 000 I grabbed the opportunity to get it. It was last year May when I paid for my house,” said Hlanjwa.

“The councillor made it sound so easy. He took my ID copy to check me from housing board, I was so happy when he said I qualified for a house. I made a loan to pay him cash.”

Hlanjwa said Gqola instructed him to pay the money through Jikwane.

“I always called him asking about the house, but things changed when my name was not on the housing list. All I want now is my money back because he failed to give me the house.”

Jikwane admitted to being the intermediary.

“Gqola and I were friends. He said he was looking for people to buy the extra five houses he had. He even showed me those houses,” said Jikwane.

She said she told Hlanjwa, who paid the money over to her in May last year.

Gqola refused to comment. He said the matter is already in court.

Matsu said she is to appear in court on Monday to face the charges brought against her by Gqola.

City of Cape Town Speaker Dirk Smit said the matter had not crossed his desk yet but he would be following it up immediately and investigate the matter.

Provincial police spokesperson November Filander said on Friday afternoon that he could not confirm that charges had been laid against Gqola as the Philippi East police station senior officers were attending a memorial service for a colleague.

The Philippi East police station phone was not answered when calls were made directly on Friday.  – Nombulelo Damba

Tags: crossroads, Dirk Smit, Lower Crossroads block 9, Luvuyo Hlanjwa, Nomveliso Matsu, November Filander, Philippi East Phase 5 housing project, Sibongile Jikwana, Thobile Gqola

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