Byline: Andani Matumba

30 May 2022

Some of the RDP house beneficiaries residing at Freedom Square hostel in Emzinoni have been awaiting for their houses since 1999 with no approval from the Department of Human Settlement and some being approved but have never been handed those houses.

It is alleged that RDP houses were built in Emzinoni, Ext 5 around 2016/2017 and the project rollout was meant to benefit the people living at Freedom Square.

XJR Construction was contracted to built the said houses and according to Govan Mbeki Municipality, the ward councillor was Cllr. B Ndaba at the time the low-cost houses were constructed.

Community members from the hostels contacted Seskhona Media alleging that since those houses were built, they have never been formally handed over to the beneficiaries and are being hijacked and vandalised.

Windows, toilets and basins have been removed from the three houses that Seskhona Media visited meanwhile some of the residents in that area grabbed the houses for themselves.

It is alleged that the owners of the houses were approved and handed with the keys of the houses even though those houses do not have electricity and water that is connected the household.

“Some of the owners of these houses were approved and did go to the municipality to collect the keys but never moved into the houses meanwhile some sold their houses.

There is no one staying here illegally,” said a resident of the Ext 5 RDP section who wished to remain anonymous and speaking on behalf of the concerned owners about the grabbing of the houses.

She stated further that she too was a resident of Freedom Square and she knows all the people who are staying in that area.

In the contrary, another beneficiary of an RDP house in Ext 5 said she moved from the hostel to her house after she was called by the housing department at GMM.

She stated that she went and collected her keys but was never given a “happy letter”, she proceeded and moved into her house but she was surprised when a certain gentlemen approached her at the house with the keys into the same house alleging that he is the owner of the same house and is entitled to live there because he bought it from a certain lady who works at the municipality.

“I relayed my story to some of the people who advised me to move out because I can never be the owner of an RDP house without a “happy letter”, she added.

An elderly man who also wishes to remain anonymous has a list of people who made applications for RDP houses in 1999 but have since not being approved and majority of them are senior citizens meanwhile their children get a quick response.

It is alleged that Mr Dumisani “Bomber” Ntshangase and his son even lost their lives in the fight for houses for people from Freedom Square.

“I was told that since I do not have any children and not married, I do not qualify to receive an RDP house,” said the old man.

According to Mr Lucky Mhlongo, Acting head of communications at Govan Mbeki Municipality  low-cost houses were built for tenants from Freedom Square who could no longer be able to pay rental as required and in order to unlock the Community Residential Unit (CRU) project that was taking place at the hostel, it was resolved that they be given an alternative place hence the low- cost houses at extension 5.

Mhlongo stated further that to qualify for a low-cost house, an individual must meet the National Housing Subsidy Scheme criteria. This means one must, be a South African citizen, contractually capable, married or habitually cohabit with a partner, single and have financial dependents, earn less than R 3500.01

“The person making the application must also be a first-time government subsidy recipient, a first-time owner, a single military veteran without financial dependant, a single aged person without financial dependant,” said Mhlongo adding on the how one qualifies for RDP houses.

When asked whether the occupants of the RDP houses in Ext 5 are the rightful owners, Mr Mhlongo said the municipality can confirm that the occupants are the rightful owners, however, in terms of the POPI Acts the municipality is forbidden to disclose their particulars without their consent.