Zuma tried to give her house away

2017-10-01 00:00
Ontlametse Phalatse celebrates her 18th birthday with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria in March. Picture: Sarel van der Walt

Ontlametse Phalatse celebrates her 18th birthday with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria in March. Picture: Sarel van der Walt

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I wanted to surprise Ontlametse on my birthday - Zuma

2017-04-21 13:09

18-year-old Ontlametse Phalatse, suffered a rare genetic disorder called Progeria, shortly before her death she had the honour of meetin President Jacob Zuma. Watch Zuma speak to people at her funeral. WATCH

Days after the death of Ontlametse Phalatse, who suffered from progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes premature ageing, President Jacob Zuma vowed to fulfil his promise to her and her mother that he would build the family a house.

But RDP house recipient Velaphi Nkosi, who had been on the housing waiting list for 19 years, was shocked to learn that Zuma wanted to give her home to the Phalatses.

It was reported in March that the Jacob Zuma Foundation, headed by SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, agreed to help meet some of Ontlametse’s wishes by joining forces with the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust.

One of Ontlametse’s biggest dreams was to own a home.

Zuma had invited the teenager to spend her 18th birthday with him and promised to ensure the family got their house. She died a few weeks later, on April 11.

Nkosi (46) was horrified when she received a letter on June 7 from the Gauteng department of human settlements, saying: “The old site number which was provisionally allocated to you has been withdrawn due to the request from the office of the presidency, so that they can allocate the house to the Phalatse family.”

Nkosi said she applied for a government house in 1998. Last year, she received a letter from the Tshwane municipality informing her that she had finally been allocated a stand number in Nellmapius extension 22, outside Pretoria.

Nkosi had often travelled to the site while her new home was being built and had waited anxiously for its completion.

But her delight turned to misery when she received a call from a ward councillor informing her the house would instead be given to the Phalatse family.

She was told it was a “special case” and that she would get another home in the “near future”.

“I was so shocked that after so many years of waiting for a house, I was now being told stories,” Nkosi said.

The Phalatses, who come from Hebron in North West, 56km from Nellmapius, were to be given the house on June 9.

It had been freshly painted and upgraded to include a boundary wall, a gate, paving, a lawn and a garden.

But angry residents in extension 22 were having none of it.

After Nkosi told them what was on the cards, they protested and burnt tyres the night before the new occupants were scheduled to arrive.

They gathered outside the house in the morning to turn the caterers and furniture vans away.

“I was sure they were going to give me someone else’s house and that would have caused chaos with its owner,” Nkosi said.

“I don’t know why they wanted to give the family my house because they live far away. But I will fight for my house and the stand I was given, and no one will live here but me.”

Tshwane mayoral committee member for housing, Mandla Nkomo, said that, although the municipality supported the foundation’s decision to give the Phalatses a house, it couldn’t be done at the expense of another recipient.

“He must build them a house. This thing of not allocating a house to a rightful beneficiary and giving it to a family who is not even on the waiting list, and not even residing in this municipality, undermines transparency and all efforts to bring credibility to the housing department,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nkosi is delighted with her “beautiful” house and thankful to her neighbours.

“I won’t have to do much to the house because the government has already done much to [improve] it,” she said.


Babalwa KaMabhoza, a Jacob Zuma Foundation representative, had undertaken since Thursday to respond. The foundation, however, failed to honour its promise of providing answers at the time of going to print.

The presidency only responded to a few questions out of those City Pres sent about the Phalatse family matter.

Spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga was only prepared to say that efforts were being made to ensure the Phalatse family got the house Zuma had promised them.

The plan was to build Ontlametse’s mother a house on the family’s plot in Hebron (near Ga-Rankuwa, northwest Pretoria).

“The house plan has been lodged with the Madibeng Local Municipality for approval. Once it has been approved, which is expected in the next few weeks, the building of the house will commence,” Ngqulunga said.

Read more on:    ontlametse phalatse  |  jacob zuma

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