RDP houses to 'bona fide' citizens

2011-10-20 09:00
Johannesburg - The RDP houses in the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg have been allocated to "bona fide" South Africans, the Gauteng housing department said on Wednesday.

It was reacting to accusations by residents that foreigners were being allocated houses in section 10 ahead of locals.

"The MEC [Humphrey Mmemezi] has invited people to bring evidence forward that proves people living in the houses are foreigners, but no one has ever come forward," said provincial housing spokesperson Motsamai Motlhaolwa.

"We understand the frustration of the waiting people but it does not justify using threats and inciting xenophobia."

Motlhaolwa said the department could not provide a house for everyone.

Earlier, residents warned of an uprising over the foreigners living in RDP houses.

"If government doesn't want to help us then we as the community need to rise up on our own," said resident Angeline Masango.

"It's going to be difficult. To my knowledge the people of Alex... are angry."

Masango said she had registered three times for an RDP house, but was told she would need to pay R3 000 or R6 000 if she wanted to get one.

Another resident said she had paid someone in the council R3 000, but she still did not have an RDP house.

2008 xenophobic attacks

Residents said foreigners were receiving RDP houses before the locals because they were able to pay.

Motlhaolwa said there was no money payable for an RDP house.

"If anyone can prove that they have to pay, they must come forward so we can make sure that those culprits are brought to book.

"We [government] don't ask for money for RDP houses... someone out there is making a killing," he said.

The housing department met police in Alexandra on Wednesday morning to address the issue.

Alexandra was the scene of several xenophobic attacks in 2008.

Gauteng police said they were keeping watch.

"There are sector officers in the area monitoring the situation and we are speaking to the community," said Gauteng police spokesperson Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini.

On Tuesday, residents put up posters warning foreigners to vacate RDP houses in extension 10 of Alexandra. They delivered pamphlets to the houses and hung posters on street lamps.

It was reported that the posters read: "You are violating our rights to own our RDP houses".

In one of the letters handed out, residents said: "The residents of Alexandra don't want... xenophobia unless you give them a cause to do so".

Cases of intimidation

In another letter they said: "We demand that you vacate at your own free will without being pushed like animals or aliens".

Residents have given the foreigners until Sunday to vacate the houses.

Dlamini said the police were concerned about the pamphlets that had been handed out.

"Police in the area will look at cases of intimidation," he said.

Motlhaolwa said the issuing of pamphlets and posters was a criminal offence because it was a form of threat.

"Criminals behind this must be caught and punished. Last week, officials visiting the area were intimidated so we have a court order forbidding anyone from going into the area except for officials and construction companies," he said.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said the people of Alexandra did not want to live with foreigners.

"They [foreigners] must have their own place - not around us," said the 55-year-old woman.

"They are foreigners and they must live in foreigner places.

"We feel bad because our children don't have houses... I've been waiting about 10, 15 years for a house."

Albert Mhlare, another Alexandra resident, said he was worried that violence would erupt over the issue of foreigners.

Rental stock

"We know they are not allowed to be there," he said.

"I'm very worried about the violence."

People who qualified for an RDP house had to earn between zero and R3 000 a month and they had to be South African citizens. Basic electricity, water and sanitation was provided.

The house could not be sold for the first eight years of occupation, said Motlhaolwa.

"Most people don't understand how the market works. The house usually sells way below the cost of building a house," he said.

It cost about R54 000 to build an RDP house, but the houses sold for about R15 000 or R20 000.

Motlhaolwa said there were more than 1 000 RDP houses in extension 10.

Half of the houses were "rental stock", which meant people had to pay rent to the government. The other half were for poor people who had no money for rent, he said.

When Alexandra residents were asked if they thought they would still receive an RDP house many replied that they were not hopeful.

"I've given up... it is a waste of time," said one of the residents.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  xenophobia  |  housing  |  service delivery

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