A home of her own

Johanna Kannemeyer, 61, finally has a home to call her own.

Johanna Kannemeyer, a 61-year-old domestic worker who has been living in a backyard in Gugulethu, finally has a home she can call her own.

City officials stepped in and assisted Ms Kannemeyer after she lost her battle against those who occupied her state-subsidised house in 2007.

Ms Kannemeyer, her two daughters, and her seven-year old granddaughter, recently moved into a state-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) house in Heideveld.

The City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, visited Ms Kannemeyer a few days ago over a cup of tea to see how she was doing in her new home.

“I lived in a Wendy house in a backyard in Gugulethu for years. I dreamed of having my own house where I could sit and have coffee on the porch. God helped me, my employer helped me, and the City helped me getting here,” said Ms Kannemeyer.

After waiting many years on the City’s housing database, Ms Kannemeyer eventually received a site in Khayelitsha in 1998. A house was built on the site in 2007 but another family moved in while the house was only half completed. Since then, Ms Kannemeyer tried all avenues to get access to her house, but to no avail. She thus ended up living with her family in a backyard in Gugulethu for the past 11 years.

Ms Kannemeyer’s case is not unique. In October 2017, council approved the guidelines and the establishment of a dedicated unit to manage the transfer of ownership to beneficiaries of historic housing projects. The biggest challenge with historic housing developments is that it is often nearly impossible to trace some of the legal or original beneficiaries of these houses for various reasons.

Thus, the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority developed a set of solutions to deal with the complex home ownership transfer issues, depending on the individual circumstances, and is in the process of establishing a dedicated unit to assist beneficiaries such as Ms Kannemeyer.

The unit will also manage the transfer of ownership to those who benefit from new and current state-subsidised BNG houses, the City said.

This is to prevent backlogs forming, and to ensure that due process is followed in the transfer of ownership and subsequent issuing of formal titles to these new homeowners.

Although Ms Kannemeyer and her dependents have been living in Gugulethu, the City’s Housing Allocation Policy allows for a small percentage of beneficiaries from other areas and those with special needs to be included in new housing developments in other neighbourhoods.

Thus, Ms Kannemeyer was able to move into one of the BNG houses in Heideveld.

These opportunities are allocated to those who have been on the City’s housing waiting list the longest, and agree to relocate to another area.

“Our housing officials told me about Ms Kannemeyer’s plight after her employer brought this case to their attention. I am extremely happy and relieved that we could assist in providing her and her family with a home of their own. We are working hard and trying our best to change our residents’ lives for the better.

“It filled me with gratitude that Ms Kannemeyer invited me to her house, and that I had had the chance to meet her in person. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to her, and the opportunity to experience her joy and relief that her ordeal was finally over,” said Mr Herron.

Ms Kannemeyer’s grandchild has been enrolled at a nearby primary school, and she herself has many plans for her new home.

“I installed burglar bars, we painted the walls and a welcome sign at the front door, and I am going to fence off my front yard soon,” she said.