Housing subsidy struggles

Jean Maarman, 53, said she and her three children are forced to live separately and have to move often, even though she has been approved as a beneficiary on a housing project in Manenberg.

Corruption allegations have once again surfaced about a housing project in Manenberg, with a community organisation claiming that legitimate beneficiaries never received their homes, but that their subsidies were used.

The Manenberg Action Group claims that some people, who were supposed to be beneficiaries of the housing development in the area, did not benefit.

They say the beneficiaries lost their subsidy, as their erf number was given to somebody else.

The Athlone News reported about the same matter early last year (“Residents protest against corruption claims”, Athlone News, March 13 2019).

Malusi Booi, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, however, denied this, saying erf numbers are temporary, and that housing subsidies are linked to beneficiaries’ identity numbers, not the erf numbers.

Jean Maarman, 53, said she had been on the housing waiting list since 1995. She was approved for The Downs housing project in 2013 and given a subsidy.

Ms Maarman claimed that nobody informed her of this though, even though she updated her details. An erf number was assigned to her, however, another beneficiary was given the house.

Ms Maarman said she had been in communication with a City official about her case, but she “gets a different story every time”.

“I was initially told I will get a house in Irvine Street, and when I enquired again, I was told I am a beneficiary on The Downs housing project. The building for The Downs will start later this month, I was told. In the meantime, I am forced to move from one place to another. My children are forced to live with other people. My eldest son even sleeps outside. I don’t think it’s right that we must live like this, and I am desperate for help,” Ms Maarman said.

Mr Booi said the erf number on the housing subsidy system is not the final erf that a beneficiary will be allocated to.

“Final allocation only happens once units are completed and the City has confirmed with the earmarked beneficiary that they will move in on a specific day. If beneficiaries cannot be reached, the unit will be allocated to the next person in line, as units cannot be left vacant due to the risk of vandalism and occupation. Once beneficiaries have moved in, erf numbers are collated and corrected on the housing subsidy system. This is standard practice in housing projects. This process has been explained to the Manenberg Action Group on a number of occasions. Ms Maarman could not be reached when the house was completed and the erf number was re-allocated,” he said.

Mr Booi added that the same apply for Sandra Bowers, and Douglas Arendse, two other beneficiaries on the project.

Chairperson of the Manenberg Action Group, Yusuf Gelderbloem, said they have many more problems similar to the three beneficiaries mentioned.

“We also discovered that property owners now also have low-cost houses, and many others who do not qualify, according to the criteria, were also given a house. We’ve asked so long for a forensic investigation, and the report was supposed to be ready in January, but we are yet to be informed of the outcome of it,” Mr Gelderbloem said.

The Manenberg Action Group said they met with Mr Booi in December, and he confirmed this meeting, but Mr Booi said he cannot comment on a forensic investigation, as “the Housing Implementation Department does not undertake forensic investigations”.

However, when the Athlone News reported on this matter in March last year, Mr Booi said at the time: “The City’s human settlements directorate takes allegations of corruption very seriously and is willing to investigate these claims. However, in order to do so, complainants need to report the allegations in writing to the City, providing the details, including names of individuals involved, as well as applicable evidence.”