How to hijack an RDP house

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The KwaZulu-Natal provincial risk assessment team is investigating why community members have not received their houses. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial risk assessment team is investigating why community members have not received their houses. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza

Sibongile Township residents told their houses are ready, only to find other people already living in them and refusing to leave

When Nozipho Majozi received an SMS from Sekusile Development Practitioners, saying that she had been allocated an RDP house in extension 20 of Dundee’s Sibongile township, the unemployed mother of two thought her dream of having a home had at last come true.

But when Majozi (41) arrived to take possession of the house – one of 700 built by the Endumeni local municipality, in conjunction with the KwaZulu-Natal department of human settlements for people earning less than R3 500 a month – she found someone else living there.

Majozi is not the only Sibongile resident allegedly swindled out of her RDP home and forced to pay illegal rentals. City Press spoke to some of the 50 affected residents who were allocated houses in the area, only to find them already occupied.

The person living in Majozi’s house claimed to be related to a member of the ward’s housing committee and refused to leave. Majozi went to the local municipal council to ask for intervention, but the council could not help her.

She was subsequently approached by another housing committee member, who offered her an alternative RDP house to rent while the matter was being sorted. Now Majozi is struggling to raise rent of R1 000 a month while she waits in hope to be allocated another house.

She said she paid the money to “a relative” who is the rent collector for the committee member-turned-landlord.

“I am so angry over what has happened. I did everything the right way. When I got the SMS last year telling me my house number and where to go, I was so happy. I went there, but found this man living there. He told me there was nothing he could do,’’ she said, sobbing.

“I have no choice but to pay. He has now told us we will have to move out because he wants to bring another person from Vryheid to live there. I am scared and I don’t know what to do,” said Majozi.

When City Press arrived in Sibongile extension 20 last Thursday, the man who lived in Majozi’s home locked the house, jumped into his Toyota Fortuner and drove away. He did not respond to any questions.

City Press also learnt that the house next door to Majozi’s was also allegedly allocated to a different person instead of its legitimate beneficiary, Buyiswa Nkomonde. It was also locked.

One beneficiary said she was meant to receive the house of her deceased parents, but also discovered it had been allocated to a different person.

Last week, the Endumeni Civic Association presented the cases of these women to representatives from the provincial department of human settlements who came to investigate the claims and held a public meeting.

They also presented an affidavit from a resident, Zama Masimula, who paid rent of R1 200 a month for an RDP house in Sibongile extension 19 for several months to a housing committee member, who said he was desperate for a place to live.

In the affidavit, Masimula said he stopped paying the illegal rent in April and moved out, after reporting the matter to the municipality with the assistance of civic association leader Mzwakhe Sithebe.

They also provided the meeting attendees with a list of houses that were unlawfully taken or sold.

Sithebe, a former ANC member of the provincial legislature and speaker of the municipality, told the meeting he believed the housing project had been undermined by “connivance” between Endumeni officials and those involved in allocating houses.

He pleaded with provincial director of human settlements Eric Kemp, who was assigned to deal with the residents’ complaints, to bring in the Hawks to investigate the claims of corruption, saying the municipality’s risk management unit had failed to resolve the problem.

Kemp undertook to hand over the cases to provincial risk management officials – some of whom were part of his entourage attending the public meeting – to investigate the claims and decide whether to call in the Hawks.

He instructed the project facilitators, Sekusile and its partners, Isimo – which were responsible for vetting applicants for RDP houses from Sibongile and the nearby Mzomusha informal settlement – to “do the humane thing” and allocate houses to deserving people.

He noted that some applications had outstanding paperwork, which stalled the progress on their applications.

“We need to resolve this and give houses to people who legitimately qualify,” said Kemp.

The speaker of the Endumeni municipality, Sduduzo Mdluli, told the meeting the council would assist in investigating the allegations of corruption and ensure that “needy residents received their houses”.

But last Wednesday, City Press established that Endumeni risk assessment officials failed to supply proper lists of applicants and those who had been allocated houses to help the province and community representatives weed out illegal occupants, in terms of an undertaking made at the meeting last week.

Sithebe expressed disappointment that the officials failed to meet the deadline and supply the correct documentation.

The matter is currently in the hands of the provincial risk assessment team.

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