Houses ‘falling apart’

Ward councillor Anthony Moses addressed beneficiaries at the title deed handover ceremony of the Heideveld Housing Development.

As beneficiaries of a City of Cape Town housing development in Heideveld celebrated getting their title deeds last week, others claimed the project was riddled with corruption and the houses were “falling apart”.

Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, along with ward councillor Anthony Moses and Sub-council 11 chairperson Antonio van der Rheede, attended the ceremony at the Cathkin community centre, on Thursday November 30, where title deeds were presented to some of the project’s beneficiaries. But outside the hall, other residents protested.

Their spokeswoman, Vanessa Sauls, said the houses in Heideveld Housing Development had been poorly built; their R450 000 valuations were too high, making it impossible for many of the occupants to pay the accompanying rates; and complaints about allegedly crooked housing officials had been ignored.

Ms Sauls claimed the project’s youngest recipient was just 19 years old.

“Some people who were not on the beneficiary list were given houses. Traffic cops and police officers have moved into these houses, when it is clear that they would not qualify for these houses, as they earn above the threshold,” she said.
“Then you get a beneficiary who received a small raise since applying for the house, and now, years down the line, earns a few rand too much, and who is now being denied a housing opportunity.

“We are a laughing stock. We have sent so many complaints to the ward councillor, Anthony Moses, but nothing has been done. We have now called on the national Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to investigate.”

However, Mr Herron denied the corruption allegations, saying they were based on rumour and not backed up by formal complaints or affidavits.

As to the claim that a 19-year-old had received a house, Mr Herron said: “Allocation is done in order of age, so allocation to such young beneficiaries is generally not possible. The matter can be investigated further if information substantiating such allegations is provided to the City.”

He said those who could not afford to pay rates should approach the City for an indigent rates relief. And he brushed off Ms Sauls’s claims about poor workmanship.

“Some houses have snags that are being attended to by the contractor. In those cases, beneficiaries have signed off against snags to enable them to move into their houses sooner.”

Mr Herron said the units were signed off by several quality controllers – including the City’s inspectors, provincial inspectors and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) – to ensure they met required standards.

“Some people who were not on the beneficiary list were given houses. Traffic cops and police officers have moved into these houses, when it is clear that they would not qualify for these houses, as they earn above the threshold,” she said.

“Then you get a beneficiary who received a small raise since applying for the house, and now, years down the line, earns a few rand too much, and who is now being denied a housing opportunity.

“We are a laughing stock. We have sent so many complaints to the ward councillor, Anthony Moses, but nothing has been done. We have now called on the national Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to investigate.”

However, Mr Herron denied the corruption allegations, saying they were based on rumour and not backed up by formal complaints or affidavits.

Regarding the claim that a 19-year-old had received a house, Mr Herron said: “Allocation is done in order of age, so allocation to such young beneficiaries is generally not possible. The matter can be investigated further if information substantiating such allegations is provided to the City.”

He said those who could not afford to pay rates should approach the City for indigent rates relief. And he brushed off Ms Sauls’s claims about poor workmanship.

“Some houses have snags that are being attended to by the contractor. In those cases, beneficiaries have signed off against snags to enable them to move into their houses sooner.”

Mr Herron said the units were signed off by several quality controllers – including the City’s inspectors, provincial inspectors and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) – to ensure they met required standards.

After signing their deeds of sale, beneficiaries of the Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses have to attend workshops on home ownership run by the City on Saturdays.

“They are educated on various topics related to home ownership, including the importance of home maintenance, the purpose of a title deed and drafting a will,” said Mr Herron.

Responding to allegations that traffic officers and police officers benefited from the housing project, despite earning above the threshold, Mr Herron said: “Beneficiaries were approved as far back as 2011. If the beneficiary met the qualifying criteria at the time, he/she remains an approved beneficiary even when their personal circumstances improve after approval.”

He denied some beneficiaries were leaving their relatives in the City’s housing rental stock when they moved into their new houses because the Heideveld housing office inspected all the rental units after the tenants left.

“Keys to the new house are not handed over if the unit is not found to be vacant,” he said.