Housing Consumer Protection Bill response to public hearings; Ga-Rankuwa and Mabopane Residents Petition: Department response
11 November 2022
Chairperson: Ms R Semenya (ANC)
The Portfolio Committee convened on a virtual platform for a briefing from the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) on issues raised during the public hearings on the Housing Consumer Protection Bill. The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) accompanied the Department. The Committee also considered a petition from Ga-Rankuwa residents and was joined by the four petitioners, the North West Housing Corporation (NWHC) and the City of Tshwane.
A key issue from the public hearings pertained to the registration of local homebuilders with the NHBRC. This requirement was a hurdle for local homebuilders because they could not be contracted for local projects without registration. The Department said that registration was mandatory, and encouraged local builders to seek assistance from the NHBRC. A Member asked whose responsibility it was to ensure that a builder was registered, and was told that the Bill provided that the person undertaking the construction had to ensure they were registered with the NHBRC. In most cases, it was the responsibility of the province. Members were concerned about the level of training provided by the NHBRC, and said that one-day training was insufficient to produce a qualified homebuilder. The training of contractors was not being coordinated at a national level and there was a need for a training programme to help transform the building industry to include women and youth. The Department acknowledged that there was room for improvement in terms of skills development in the building industry.
Another issue arising from the public hearings was that building inspectors lacked visibility on the ground and in many cases, this resulted in disputes with subcontractors. One Member specifically referred to inspectors as being reactive, instead of proactive. The importance of the role of inspectors in the quality assurance function was emphasised, because many of the government-built houses were of poor quality. There were also not enough inspectors on the ground to cover many projects and detect defects in time, which resulted in the late and costly detection of poor quality houses. The NHBRC said that it would increase the visibility of inspectors, and added that the Bill provided for personal liability against inspectors.
The Department reassured the Committee that it was conducting monitoring and evaluation with the NHBRC, and would also need to have sight of the NHBRC’s approvals to check whether inspections had been conducted. It also acknowledged the need to work collaboratively to ensure accountability and address issues like the slow enrolment of projects and houses with the provincial department. A Member said that the Department’s rectification programme needed to be strengthened to address instances of shoddy work, but the Department responded that this programme had ceased to exist because contractors were not being held liable. When there was a need for any rectification in a project, it would have to be proposed by the province, and the decision to have rectification would be treated on a case-by-case basis.
The Department took the Committee through a presentation of the MAWIGA National Ministerial Project, which was intended to address the issue of outstanding title deeds in the MAWIGA area. The Minister had taken it upon herself to resolve at least 7 000 of the uncontested properties under the project. The directive that all houses previously constructed or subject to a loan or grant from the previous regime should be facilitated for transfer was still in place, and there was a need for an implementation policy.
The four petitioners who joined the Committee did not form part of the Department’s bigger MAWIGA initiative, but came from Ga-Rankuwa. They told the Committee their individual stories of how they had been evicted from their homes and deprived of the ownership of their properties. Their homes had been sold to other people and their title deeds were never restored. They had been fighting for their homes for about 16 years, and had come to Parliament as their last hope.
There was contention over who had sold their properties, as the petitioners believed it was the City of Tshwane (COT), but the CoT denied that they had sold the properties because they did not own them. The land ownership issue concerned whether the land was formally handed over from the North West to the CoT in terms of the new demarcations. The petitioners had also previously approached the Public Protector, who had issued a report with recommendations to the CoT and NWHC. These recommendations had been ignored, and the CoT had opted to take the report on review years later. The NWHC had offered the petitioners a cash sum they had not received, which they said would not have compensated for their losses in any event. The petitioners were deeply concerned about the CoT's apparent apathy over the matter.
The Committee was also concerned that the CoT and NWHC had not opened a case to find out who was selling the houses. The Committee requested an investigation into the matter, because there were seemingly acts of corruption and fraud involved.
Mr A Tseki (ANC) requested clarification of the agenda before it was adopted. The document before the Members contained the response from the Department, so he was uncertain when the Committee would cover issues raised during the public hearings.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had tabled the issues that were raised during the public hearings in the various provinces and separated them from the main issues of the Housing Consumer Protection Bill. The Committee Content Advisor would assist the Committee in going through the issues not tabled from the remaining provinces, which were North West, Western Cape and Northern Cape. In the previous meeting, when the Committee had adopted the minutes of the various provinces, they had instructed the officials to isolate issues and develop a plan of action which would be tabled in a meeting. Some of those issues entailed the names and contact details of the people who had raised specific matters, and these issues would be submitted to the Department. She suggested that this particular issue be finalised and compiled properly after the deliberations.
Mr Tseki seconded the agenda with that understanding.
Public comments on Housing Consumer Protection Bill
Ms Sindisiwe Ngxongo, Acting Director-General (DG), Department of Human Settlements (DHS), introduced the members of the Department accompanying her.
Mr Paul Masemola, Acting Head: Legal Services, DHS, conducted the presentation, in which he presented the comments, inputs and questions raised on the contents of the Housing Consumer Protection Bill in the public hearings in provinces.
Key issues that emerged from the public hearings:
Comment: Local homebuilders were not contracted in local projects because they were not registered with the NHBRC.
Response: Registration as a home builder was mandatory when constructing homes. It was also a requirement before a project could be awarded to a homebuilder. Local builders were advised and encouraged to seek assistance from the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) regarding registrations.
Comment: NHBRC to improve on training and capacitation of inspectors.
Response: The Bill covers the qualifications and duties of an inspector. It covers an offering or receiving gratification by any inspector, as a reward or incentive for that inspector to do anything he or she should not do was prohibited. Sections 70 to 72 empowered the Council to professionalise the inspector function.
Comment: Clarity sought on appointments of sub-contractors that were not registered with the NHBRC.
Response: In terms of the Bill, registration was required from both the main contractors and sub-contractors, and such misconduct had to be reported (all home builders must be registered, whether they were appointed as the main or sub-contractor).
Comment: Clarity on commencement period of the warranty cover.
Response: The commencement of the warranty cover was from the date of commencement of construction in terms of the Bill, as opposed to the date of occupation in the current Act.
Comment: Complaints that homes were not inspected, inspectors not visible or inspectors approving poorly constructed structures.
Response: The Bill provides for personal liability against inspectors.
Comment: Consumers need education and the visibility of the NHBRC.
Response: The NHBRC was expected to increase its visibility and open additional branches in remote provinces like the Northern Cape.
Comment: Exclusion of rural communities.
Response: The current Act and the Bill apply to any house in the Republic. The homebuilder must be registered and compliant to be registered with the NHBRC, and the house must also be enrolled. Where there was non-compliance, a stop build directive was issued. Once resolved, the builder would be allowed to resume work.
Comment: Provide for the enrolment of additions, alterations, renovation and repairs of homes.
Response: The enrolment of additions, alterations, renovations and repairs were issues that would be addressed by the Minister in the Regulations, enabled by section 2(3) of the Bill.
Key issues emerging from Master Builders Association and Development Action Group:
Comment: The registration and enrolment of a home or addition, renovations or repairs to a home would create a financial burden for the homebuilder and would discourage improvement of homes.
Response: NHBRC advised that the registration of the homebuilder was a once-off, and the annual fee was for the renewal of the registration. Registration of home builders and enrolment of homes were obligations set out in the current act and the Bill. The latter ensured mandatory protection of housing consumers, through regulation of the home building industry and warranty cover for all housing consumers.
Comment: Owner-builder exemption should not be removed.
Response: The Bill afforded protection to all housing consumers including owner-builders. Public interest required that an owner builder be included in the dispensation to ensure compliance with technical requirements and warranty cover.
Key service delivery-related matters raised:
Comment: Were mortgage properties covered in terms of the Bill?
Response: Section 83 of the Bill required banks, before approving mortgage bond applications, to determine whether a home was enrolled with the NHBRC. This was applicable to newly built homes,as well as alterations or additions.
Comment: Poor quality homes were being constructed. Houses must be built in terms of the national standard prescribed by the Minister.
Response: Any non-compliance should be reported, and the NHBRC, province and municipality conduct inspections.
Comment: Slow process on the Rectification Programme – there were pre-1994 houses with roof leakages and structural challenges not being rectified.
Response: Provinces had to balance prioritisation based on current and existing backlogs – Ministerial approval was required for rectification, based on ensuring all efforts had been exhausted to hold developers and contractors liable for poor workmanship.
Comment: Family disputes on ownership of the houses.
Response: A national framework to resolve the disputes had been issued.
The Department would establish a task team that would be headed by the intergovernmental and stakeholder relations unit which would engage relevant municipalities and provinces to account on issues in their areas and address concerns of the Committees.
An inspection of the project in Worcester that involved the dignity of households would be carried out, and a report would be provided to the Portfolio Committee.
The NHBRC had given their inputs to the Department, so they had nothing further to add.
(See attached document for further details).
Mr Tseki asked how the Department had got these comments and responses. Was it through the Committee, or through its representative who had attended the public hearings? If a person employed a builder, whose responsibility was it to ensure that the builder was registered? He understood the Department to be saying that all builders must be registered, which was a requirement in terms of the law, but whose responsibility was this? He compared it to registering one’s children at a school not registered by the Department, whereas the principal said that the school was registered.
The questions relating to compliance in payments to subcontractors were very specific from specific people. If a subcontractor complained about late payments, there had to be information available about the relevant contact number, address, ward and province. This meant that the issue was more about following up on compliance with payments. The Department recommended the establishment of a task team, but there were specific issues that arose such as those pertaining to the size of a house. It was his understanding that all the houses were 40 square meters, except those of military veterans, which were 50 or 54 square meters. He requested guidance on how establishing a task team would address such specific areas.
Did the Department say there was no prohibition on renting an RDP house? The questions about disability housing were also specific. He asked the Department to share the policy on family house disputes because he was unsure whether he had seen it, and it was a serious problem. He welcomed the Department’s establishment of the task team.
In the next meeting, the Committee would send the Department further issues raised by the public. When the Members were in Worcester, the DHS in the Western Cape said they were going to send a report to the Chairperson by the end of November. The Committee expects this report by the end of November on the issues raised in Worcester.
The NHBRC was very proactive in Mahikeng, and this was welcomed. In Mahikeng, there was a member of the public who said that their house, which was built in 2018, had collapsed in 2019 or 2020. The NHBRC had initiated a promise to deal with the matter, hence he was saying they were proactive. Unfortunately, to date, that matter has not been addressed. He had followed up with a Mr Zakes Mhlongo from the NHBRC, who had immediately responded, followed up with the relevant person in Mahikeng, and contacted the beneficiary. He was worried that the NHBRC had initiated the process to deal with the issue, but had not followed up to date. This proactiveness, but lack of follow up, could disappoint a beneficiary.
Mr C Malematja (ANC) said he had the very same question as Mr Tseki relating to how the Department got these comments, and how they had responded without engaging with the Committee. He dealt with a number of issues, including the training of homebuilders. He thought this issue would be taken care of in the form of the NHBRC acknowledging that they could avail themselves for the training. He said that one-day workshops could not make a person become a qualified homebuilder. He emphasised that a quality homebuilder must have a certificate in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) college training, so that they could produce a quality structure with an understanding of the whole building process.
Regarding funding of emerging contractors, funding alone without monitoring was not enough. A common mistake was to be happy, try to be populist and give the funds to everybody without even checking their background. After a certain period of time, this mistake would result in the whole system collapsing and the loss of money. On the enrolment of mortgages, if the issue was left alone with the banks without proper monitoring in the form of proof to the owner, that house and owner would be put at risk, bearing in mind the viral fraud in the country.
An issue raised was that of inspectors who were absent during the building process, but would come at a certain stage, inspect and detect a defect, then recommend the demolition of the structure. This was not fair. At what point did the NHBRC work in collaboration with the quality assurance team from the Department to ensure that structures were monitored stage by stage or satisfactorily? He was raising this issue because the very houses that were proudly handed to the poor would, after completion, be found to have cracked due to insufficient brick forces. The lack of equipment and inspectors on site at the end of the day resulted in the lack of intended quality.
On the registration of builders, he said that if builders were registered and taken into the field without being trained for a long time, the entire process of building would be compromised. He suggested that builders be registered along with a recommendation stating they had done that particular work before.
The Chairperson referred to the enrolment of a house, and asked for clarification on who had to register the house -- whether it was the homebuilder, or the beneficiary themselves. In terms of subsidy houses, it was very clear that the Minister or the Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) responsible for Human Settlements had to enrol those houses. With a private house, was employing a qualified builder enough? Did it mean that the house itself was enrolled?
She asked the Department to unpack its response on the professionalisation of inspectors. Were the Department’s inspectors not professional or qualified? How did both inspectors of municipalities and provinces and the NHBRC work together and collaborate? People who bought private houses raised issues around conveyancers and said that these conveyancers made home buyers pay a lot of money. How did the Bill help them in this regard? The Department spoke about the poor quality of homes, a majority of which were government-built houses, and said that people had to report them to the NHBRC. How would people know about these issues if the inspectors of the NHBRC were the ones who were supposed to provide quality assurance when the houses, particularly state-enrolled houses, were built? Was suggesting that people report these houses enough of an answer? There was a call to make inspectors liable for some of their approved work that was not done properly. In two provinces, people said inspectors were corrupt and needed to be held liable. The Department was saying that people had to report such instances. How could the Bill be strengthened so that inspectors, Members of Executive Councils (MECs), MMCs and engineers became liable too?
On the poor visibility of the National Department, the presentation stated that housing was a concurrent function. Indeed it was a concurrent function, but the budget of the National Department was appropriated and committed to the provinces, which was why there were conditions. The Auditor-General (AG) even raised the issue, saying that housing was a concurrent function without giving the context of building houses in the country was not answering the issues raised by people. Housing was a concurrent function, but putting conditions into the budget was supposed to address issues of poor quality housing. By simply stating that there was poor visibility of the National Department, it meant that it did not, and did not intend to, have monitoring and evaluation. How could the Department fit in the monitoring of building quality houses?
From 1995 to 2000, there was a programme for properly training contractors, with the intention of transforming the industry itself. That programme was no longer visible in the provinces and was not being coordinated at a national level. If the training that the NHBRC was referring to was a one-day workshop training, it was a problem. This training did not provide for the proper training of contractors who would transform the industry and develop into professional contractors. As the Bill was being finalised, the Department had to ready itself to have a proper contractor development programme on the ground. It had to ensure that contractors in the system were trained by the government and not just coming from their homes. The Department also had to ensure there was a deliberate programme to train contractors to transform the system, and have women and youth, particularly, participating in the building industry.
On the issue of contractors concerning the developers, she was unsure whether their requirements were the same, and asked for clarification. In some provinces, a person who a had a company could just apply to build a house without knowledge of the industry or what was needed to buy a house, and simply relied on secondary information. How could this issue be managed, particularly with houses built by the government?
The majority of people who came to public hearings had issues pertaining to poor quality houses and were directed to go and register those issues, so Members were asking where the Department had got its information from. Did the NHBRC have the capacity to regulate and monitor the implementation of the Bill? The NHBRC had to provide quality assurance because it was a visible problem on the ground.
Ms Natasha Fouche, Head of Legal, NHBRC, said that Sections 25 and 26 of the Bill made provision for the registration of homebuilders and developers. Any person who undertook the construction of a home had to ensure that they were registered as a homebuilder with the NHBRC. Therefore, it was not the housing consumer’s responsibility to register a homebuilder.
On the difference between a developer and homebuilder, she said that in some instances, homebuilders undertook construction themselves. Developers were the owners of the land and appointed another homebuilder to undertake construction. However, that developer had to be registered, as, in many instances, that developer was the person who sold the properties to housing consumers. In those circumstances, the developer was jointly and severally liable for the construction, as well as any defects to the property.
In Section 23 on a register of homebuilders, any housing consumer wishing to contract with a homebuilder could contact the NHBRC to obtain information about that particular homebuilder or developer and their status with the NHBRC. She noted the issue raised by Mr Malematja about the beneficiary in Mahikeng. She said she would ensure that the NHBRC engaged with that beneficiary and follow up with Mr Mhlongo to resolve the matter as speedily as possible.
On the issues around the inspectors of the NHBRC, she noted the concerns raised about the gratification and corruption that various stakeholders had mentioned. The public was encouraged to communicate such incidents with the NHBRC. Section 70 of the Bill provided consequences for those particular inspectors if it came to the attention of the NHBRC.
On the professionalisation of the NHBRC inspectors, all of the appointed inspectors had qualifications in the build environment.
Ms Nkadisha Rasebotsa, Legal Services, NHBRC, responded on the professionalisation of inspectors, and confirmed that the NHBRC had previously entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and was currently continuing to have negotiations to enter into new MOUs with the South African Council for Project and Construction Professions (SACPCMP). The NHBRC’s inspectors had the necessary qualifications in the built environment. This memorandum was meant to ensure that the NHBRC and SACPCMP collaborated on the development and recognition of building inspector professionals. It was also meant to ensure that the inspectors were accredited as professional building inspectors and that they received educational programmes and continued professional development. The accreditation of the inspectors was continuous, and she confirmed that currently, the NHBRC had some inspectors who had undergone the necessary training by way of exams through the SACPCMP. The NHBRC was on board in respect of the professionalisation of inspectors.
Ms Fouche responded to Mr Malematja’s question on the mortgages of financial institutions. The Bill from Section 81 to 83 provided for obligations not only on financial institutions, but also on conveyancers and estate agents. Prior to either a conveyancer registering or transferring a property, alternatively the financial institution providing financial assistance through a bond, or alternatively estate agents selling a property, they had a duty to ensure that that particular property was enrolled with the NHBRC prior to those transactions happening.
Mr Masemola said that in drafting their responses, the DHS got the information from colleagues who had attended the public hearings, but had also consulted with a few committee secretariats on some of the questions. Mr Tseki was correct in saying that some of the responses needed specific answers from specific people. There were some responses that the Department had followed up on with the same people who had raised the issues. For example, in Port Elizabeth, issues were raised about people who were given title deeds but upon going to those houses, found other people occupying those houses. There were quite a number of these issues, and he was unable to list all of them, but the first person who had raised the issue was a lady known as "Mam’Lizzy," who represented a number of people who had a similar challenge. The DHS had started the process of responding to these issues by visiting those people with investigators from the Department to find out what had really transpired. In some instances, there were several meetings to address those issues raised by community members. The Department had met with the Eastern Cape province, and was awaiting a date from the municipal manager of Port Elizabeth to meet and address some of the issues. The Department was responding as and when it received information, and some issues had yet to be responded to. The Department had indicated that it would have a team to ensure it consolidated and cleared the issues raised. Mr Malematja was correct that there were issues about skills development raised in the public hearings, with some indicating that the training should not be a boardroom training of some kind. This had been noted by the Department, as there was room for improvement in skills development
Ms Nelly Letsholonyane, Acting DDG: Corporate Services, DHS, said she was also going to explain how the Department got its responses, but Mr Masemola had adequately responded to that question.
Ms Ngxongo said that when the Bill was drafted, it took into consideration that there was a need to get proper qualifications for previously disadvantaged individuals. It was known that most homebuilders in rural areas were not registered but could build solid houses without having paperwork. The Bill took into account that these individuals needed to be elevated to get the proper certificates and benefit appropriately. The details of this target were covered in the regulations.
On disputes regarding title deeds, particularly concerning deceased estates, the Department consulted with the Department of Justice to collaborate on the role they each needed to play in the matter. More often than not, beneficiaries would go to the courts, who would then refer them to the DHS and over the years, it had not been clear how the Department could assist these beneficiaries. The correspondence had already been sent to the Minister of Justice, and a working arrangement was being sought in terms of how the DHS could assist these beneficiaries so that they did not get sent from pillar to post going forward.
The Department would note the contractor development programme as an area the NHBRC needed to enhance, because the biggest emphasis was on having trained people building houses for the sector. The question of who must ensure that the builders were registered came up often in the Department’s technical Ministers and Members of Executive Council (MinMec) meetings, where the NHBRC discovered that the provinces did appoint builders that were not registered at the right level for the construction of houses in the sector. The provinces had the responsibility to ensure that they were not only appointing builders that were registered with the NHBRC, but also that they were registered at the right level for the work they were appointed for. This issue had been cited as a shortcoming in the delivery of houses and was being addressed in the technical MinMec.
On the budget in terms of the concurrent functions, the National Department was not at the implementation level. Indeed, it did get the budget that got sent to the provinces and municipalities under certain conditions at the implementation level. It was acknowledged that the question that the Auditor General (AG) and the National Department had asked was, with all the shortcomings that were experienced or known of at the implementation level, it did not assist the sector in continuing to transfer the budget in the midst of all the problems that would not have been sorted out at the time. She agreed that monitoring and evaluation needed to be enhanced to ensure that those conditions attached to the grants were managed closely, to minimise the Department’s exposure.
Follow up questions
Mr Malematja commended the progress in that mistakes had been realised and where there was a need for improvement had been identified. The NHBRC needed to understand that the Committee was not disputing that their inspectors were qualified. The issue was that there were not enough inspectors to cover the volume of work on the ground and that alone made them not necessarily proactive in the process, but reactive instead. This was causing disputes with subcontractors and others. He made an example of a person building a house and upon reaching window height, they found a mistake three courses away from the foundation. There was a need to increase the number of inspectors. If there was no budget to do so, at what point was the NHBRC working with the quality assurance inspectors from provinces to ensure that where there was work, they did not encounter situations of their own fault? This was because contractors would say they could not turn back upon reaching specific stages of building, and would ask the inspector where they were to detect specific defects.
The Chairperson said that when the Committee met with the provinces, the same questions as asked by Mr Malematja had been asked. When asked whether the payments were linked to quality assurance, the provinces explained that when quality assurance was done on the building of the slabs and they were approved, only then would the money be released. But the reality on the ground was different. Some of the houses that were built were older and some were new. If the issue of quality assurance was linked to the payment, the shoddy work would not continue, because the inspector would go and do quality assurance on the slabs and then the payment would be released, after which the house would be built. This was not being done with the recent houses being built. So as Mr Malematja said, the Committee was not disputing the qualifications of the inspectors, but was saying that the inspectors were not visible on the ground. Therefore it was important for the NHBRC to collaborate with municipal inspectors and provinces. There had to be contractual arrangements so that people took liability for the shoddy work being done as houses were being built, because a majority of houses that had been built in the provinces had been enrolled with the NHBRC.
Many people were not even aware of quality insurance and would therefore stay in a house that later revealed defects. These people would go to their councillor because they did not know who to go to, and the councillor would not take their issues to the Department. Some of the offices of the NHBRC were also very far away from communities. To prevent some of these issues, it was suggested that when "happy letters" were given to people, the happy letters should indicate that their houses had a warranty and the contact details of who they should contact, should they have a problem.
The Committee appreciated that the Department was proactive in terms of issues that had been raised, but many people had to be told to go and register their issues with the administrators during the hearings. As the Bill was being finalised, the Committee would compile the issues and the contacts of individuals and send them to the Department. The Committee then wanted responses on those issues raised by individuals during the public hearings, and how it would have resolved those matters. The Committee would then return to those individuals and check whether the Department resolved them.
Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) asked whether the Department was working concurrently with the NHBRC when it did monitoring and evaluation of a housing project, or whether the Department did its quality assurance separately and then, at a certain point in time, the NHBRC would come and check if quality assurance was being done. In cases where the Department realised shoddy work had been done, what did it do? Did it not recommend that the constructor stop doing shoddy work so there would be no defects at the end of the project? Assuming that the NHBRC had more know-how than the Department regarding monitoring and evaluating these projects, did they not realise when there were defects? Or, what did they do if they came only at the end of the projects and saw these defects? Did they just applaud the work being done, even if it was shoddy work?
There was a lot of money being wasted. For example, the Committee went for oversight in Budeli, Thohoyandou the previous weekend and were shown houses that were very costly from the look of it, yet money had been wasted and the NHBRC had been there. The NHBRC had approved the houses, but as a result of complainants who were not satisfied with the shoddy work, other houses were built to replace the same houses. In one yard, two houses were built, one being of shoddy work, but then a replica of the house was built -- and there were still complaints about defects. Where was the Department at that time and what was it saying about this shoddy work? Where was the NHBRC?
Ms Fouche said that generally, the NHBRC did undertake inspection of both subsidy and non-subsidy homes. In this regard, if defects identified on site were not in compliance with the technical requirements, the NHBRC would issue a non-compliance certificate to those particular homebuilders. This would afford that particular homebuilder an opportunity to rectify those defects. She would obtain the details of the particular project Ms Mokgotho was referring to from the Committee secretary, and ensure that there were teams sent to that particular site to conduct an investigation and report back to the Committee.
Ms Ngxongo acknowledged the shortcomings of monitoring and evaluation at the Department. If everything was done correctly and was in order, there would be no poor quality houses that had to be reported by individual members of the community. What was elevated at a later stage was expected to be corrected right at the beginning, so what that now indicated was that there was a shortcoming in terms of the inspectorate work from the NHBRC. The Department also needed to enhance its follow-ups after the NHBRC issued a non-compliance certificate. Without follow-ups, there would be no assurance that corrective measures had been done and done on time. This was why there were issues with the quality of houses being delivered.
The National Department was conducting monitoring and evaluations, sometimes with the NHBRC who they knew were represented at provincial offices. What the DHS was going to start including in its monitoring and evaluation was that for each project, it would also need to have sight of the NHBRC approvals, because these would indicate whether inspections had been done or omitted, for whatever reason. This way, it would know whether the NHBRC had covered the inspectorate fully, whether there were shortcomings or whether they were addressing issues with the houses. It remained a concern that even when a new house was built as a corrective measure, that new house was shoddy and this was not picked up. The Department needed to collaborate with the NHBRC in this regard, to hold each other accountable and identify the source of the issues and why they were not being solved. The costs of such issues were very high, and there was no budget to constantly do rework on shoddy houses. It would also come to the point where inspectors were going to be held accountable. This was covered in the Bill, because it had become evident that inspectors would issue certificates of compliance even on projects that were not compliant. The Bill had a provision to the extent that those inspectors would be de-registered from the system.
The Department would not wait for the Bill to be enacted to address issues identified as areas of improvement. It was collaborating with the NHBRC to address the slow process of enrolling projects and houses with the provincial DHS. The NHBRC had been holding sessions where they shared information with the provincial departments on what they were expected to do to fast track the process. The Department did not want to continue explaining that a particular house was not completed because it was waiting on the NHBRC, or that the provincial department had not done a particular process correctly, as this reflected on the sector as a whole.
Follow up questions
Mr Malematja emphasised that the central point was that a house belonging to a member of the public must be of quality. How could the Committee assist in this regard? He thought the NHBRC and the Department would clarify the role of the residential inspector. For example, for a "happy letter" to be signed by the beneficiary of a low cost house, a residential inspector had to attach his signature, which he could not do without going out and doing the inspection. In the provincial DHS, inspectors were normally referred to as quality assurance inspectors. Before blaming the NHBRC, he wanted to understand how there was continuous shoddy work, whereas the DHS had reinforced quality assurance inspectors. He emphasised that there was a need for the NHBRC, the Department and the provinces to collaborate and provide quality, long-lasting and defect-free houses on the ground.
The Chairperson said the Committee and Ms Ngxongo had affirmed that the Department’s monitoring and evaluation would check whether the NHBRC had done quality assurance. The NHBRC had also said that this would be the expectation moving forward. The most important thing was to ensure the fast tracking of the rectification programme so that the DHS could close the gap in terms of tightening up the legislation, operations and monitoring and evaluation. It must also be fast tracked to ensure the correction of the houses where shoddy work was done, and to resolve old challenges. If this was not done, the same people whose houses were built long ago by government would come back and complain. Therefore it was important to strengthen the rectification programme.
The Committee also expected the Department to deal with the municipalities that had been appointed as developers or contractors, like in the Western Cape, where it was found that the province did not implement as required by the NHBRC, especially because a majority of the developers in the Western Cape were municipalities. Private contractors could be put through the process of removal and blacklisting, but it was uncertain what to do with municipalities. Moving forward, the Committee wanted to know, in cases where the municipality was the developer and shoddy work was identified, what the process was for removing or disqualifying them, as was done with private developers. The Committee would package the issues and officially send them to the Minister so that the task team that the Department was planning to establish -- which the Committee was very appreciative of -- would send a report back addressing the issues raised by individuals. The Committee would then check whether indeed the issues had been addressed by the provinces, the Department and the municipalities.
Ms Ngxongo said that the rectification programme was one that the Department or the sector used to have for many years, but had ceased to operate. One of the reasons was because it had proved to be very costly. Contractors were not necessarily being held accountable for shoddy work, and there was a continuation of rectifying or building the new houses without holding anybody accountable. She recalled that the last MinMec decision stated that if there was a need for any rectification, it would be proposed by the provincial DHS and each case would be treated on its individual merit. These requests would come from the MECs to the Minister for consideration.
On the role of the municipal inspectors, it was correct that not everything had to be the responsibility of the NHBRC, as the municipal inspectors also had a role to play. The Committee was asking that there be a collaboration between the two. The Bill touched on the role of the municipal inspectors in the NHBRC because there was no duplication in those respective areas. The Department acknowledged the need to enhance this relationship and collaboration to know where it had to hold the NHBRC and the municipal inspectors responsible.
Mr Sabelo Mnguni, Committee Content Advisor, went through the Ga-Rankuwa petition.
The Chairperson requested the DHS to brief the Committee on the policy framework regarding the old houses in the townships for which government subsidies were provided.
DHS presentation: Title Restoration Update Mawiga Ministerial Project
Ms Ngxongo said that the MAWIGA Project was now a ministerial project and a priority. The Minister had been meeting with members of the communities since January, and the Department continued to engage with the communities with its commission.
Mr Neville Chainee, DDG: Human Settlements, Planning and Strategy, DHS, took the Committee through the presentation. He said the Portfolio Committee should note the work being undertaken by the DHS to resolve the matter of outstanding title deeds in the MAWIGA area. The policy dispensation by government which was approved and still in place as per the 1994/1997 directives, directed that all houses which were previously constructed or which were subject to a loan or a grant from the previous regime (before 27 April 1994) be facilitated for transfer. The houses in question formed part of that pre-1994 stock built with the grants from the North West province. What was needed was a policy stating that the transfers must be implemented.
Background to the North West Housing Corporation (NWHC)
The entity had been operating as a housing parastatal in the North West Provincial Government within the executive authority of the MEC for Human Settlements.
The Corporation was first ordered to cease its operations by 31 March 2010. In August 2010, National Treasury recommended that a service provider be appointed to drive the winding down process, legally, financially and operationally.
To date, the Corporation still operated and has not submitted a verified asset register or the loan book, despite requests from the Minister.
The property portfolio included rented houses, instalment houses, flats, farmland and vacant stands in the North West, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Free State.
MAWIGA National Ministerial Project
The MAWIGA Petitions Group consisted of representatives of community members in Ga-Rankuwa Units 7 and 8, Mabopane M, S, U and X, and Winterveld, who had been trying since 1990 to obtain title deeds to their properties on the basis of a Department of Local Government, Housing, Planning and Development Circular (Ref7/8/2/1) that provided for the disposal of all state-owned and subsidised properties constructed before 30 June 1993 in favour of their beneficiaries.
The properties in MAWIGA straddled North West and Gauteng, but in terms of demarcation, they fell within the magisterial jurisdiction of the City of Tshwane. Therefore it was the responsibility of the City to ensure that MAWIGA residents received their titles.
The community, through the Petitions Group, had petitioned the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in 2015, and presented their case to the Premier of Gauteng in 2017. Engagements with Gauteng continued until 2020 without any tangible result, and they proceeded to engage the National Department throughout 2021.
The MAWIGA Petitions Group met with the current Minister of Human Settlements in January 2022, where they again presented their case and disputed any money owed to third parties that prevented the transfer of their properties. By February, the Minister had directed that all properties (as presented by the Corporation) that could be transferred, should be transferred without delay, and committed to continuing discussions to resolve the outstanding matters on the properties in dispute. However, during the Human Settlement Development business planning process concluded in April, Gauteng and North West did not adhere to these directives. In Gauteng, there was a total of 9 241 properties that consisted of legacy properties and old stock, but Gauteng prioritised only 50 title deeds in the Ga-rankuwa area. In North West, the property portfolio was about 15 249, and the province prioritised only 1 098.
On 7 July, the Minister declared the uncontested properties (approximately 7 000) as a Ministerial Project, to be funded and implemented by the National Department. A technical working group had been established with the MAWIGA Petitions Group
Findings of Public Protector Report 14 of 2018
The City of Tshwane (CoT), in failing to conclude township establishment through the provision of an approved general plan, was guilty of maladministration in respect of all four complainants.
The NHWC, in failing to transfer the properties in the names of the beneficiaries, was guilty of maladministration (although this was subject to the first finding).
There was improper conduct on the part of CoT in respect of fraudulent sales of three of the beneficiaries’ properties, and a failure to compensate the beneficiaries.
Remedial action had to be implemented by the MECs responsible for Human Settlements in Gauteng and North West, the Executive Mayor and City Manager in Tshwane, and the Chairperson and CEO of the NWHC.
The CoT in 2021 had taken the Public Protector’s Report on review under case 40333/21 in the Gauteng High Court on the basis of rationality. The outcome of the court case was not known.
Ms Luanne Werner, Programme Manager, DHS, said that two matters should be considered. One matter concerned the bigger MAWIGA Petitions Group. The Minister had taken it upon herself to resolve at least 7 000 of the uncontested properties under the ministerial project. The other matter concerned the four petitioners brought to the Committee. They happened to reside in the MAWIGA area, but were not part of the formal petitions group. The Department had tried to give the Committee the context of the NWHC. It was trying to resolve a number of issues concerning the corporation in so far as a residential property portfolio was concerned, and was also making the Committee aware of its views on the matter before the Committee. The presentation was therefore meant to contextualise the matter of the four petitioners who appeared before the Committee.
Notably, the issues of the four petitioners were never brought to the National Department of Human Settlement’s attention. The Public Protector investigated their matter in 2018 and issued a report which found a basis for maladministration. The beneficiaries’ properties were allegedly sold to third parties in three instances. It also found that there was a failure to formalise the township establishment on those properties in the area where they were located, and that transfers were not effected to the beneficiaries.
It was under Minister Joe Slovo that there had been a directive on pre-1994 properties. The Department was still dealing with transitional local and rural councils, but in terms of the directive, all properties that were developed for and on behalf of beneficiaries by any entity of state should have been transferred into the names of the beneficiaries, be they 99-year leases or permissions to occupy (PTOs). The directive was not only for the residential portfolio, but also included old business sites and church sites. Under the title restoration project, the Department transferred all properties into the names of the beneficiaries and families occupying those properties since their inception.
In the case of the four petitioners, they had approached the Committee after the remedial action proposed by the Public Protector was not implemented. The Public Protector had recommended that Gauteng, North West and City of Tshwane (CoT) effect township establishment, provide reparations or ensure that the people got their properties back, as well as the title to their properties. This did not happen and in 2021, CoT took the Public Protector’s report on review. From the Department’s perspective, it appeared that CoT did not have sight of a lot of documents, and they claimed that neither had the Public Protector. If the Public Protector had access to some of the documents relating to the histories of the properties, she would have come to a different conclusion. This seemed to be the basis on which the CoT had launched its review application. The outcome of the matter was not known.
The Department itself had investigated what may have transpired. The four petitioners before the Committee did not form part of the Department’s original MAWIGA initiative, which was largely an uncontested residential property portfolio of about 7 000 houses. This matter came before the Committee because the DHS had not done right to all the residents in the MAWIGA area. Now there was an impasse, where the Public Protector’s recommendations had not been implemented, there was a review pending and the petitioners had nowhere else to turn to to resolve their issues. Township establishment had not yet been effected, which raised questions about the illegal sale of properties which could have occurred. It was important for the Department to contextualise these complaints within the bigger MAWIGA petitions area and what it was dealing with within the context of the NWHC and their mandate.
City of Tshwane's response
Ms Petal Thring, Divisional Head: Housing Administration, Housing and Human Settlements, City of Tshwane, thanked the Department for providing the background and apologised for not being able to get the report from the North West. The CoT had taken the matter on review and had not yet received an outcome on the court matter, but they would share it with the Committee once they had it. Three of the four townships had been proclaimed, except for 2281, but there were transfers in that area, so she was unsure what the problem was. However, she would re-look at it and ensure that the proclamations were sorted out.
North West Housing Corporation's response
Mr Sello Mogodiri, CEO, NWHC, said that the entity had submitted a report. The properties in dispute had been transferred by the CoT, and not the NWHC. This should not have been the case, because the City was not the owner of those properties.
Regarding their remedial directives regarding the Public Protector's ruling, as a gesture or token of forgiveness, R10 000 had been given to individual members, so the NWHC had fully complied.
Ms Mokgotho said she had just heard from Mr Mogodiri that the NWHC had already transferred the properties to their owners, but her understanding from the Department’s presentation was that there were still people who had not received their properties after they were illegally sold to private owners. What was the Department going to do about the people that did not receive their properties back from the NWHC after their properties were sold to other people? She was referring to the people who did not want compensation, or were not compensated for their properties because they wanted the return of their properties.
The presentation stated that in 2010, the then Premier had ordered the NWHC to cease operating. In August 2010, the Treasury recommended that a service provider be appointed to drive the winding down process of the NWHC. This service provider was appointed in November 2010, and was given a clear directive to verify the asset register or loan book of the NWHC. However, to date, there has been no compliance by the NWHC with the Minister’s request and Treasury’s recommendation. Since the NWHC did not want to comply, what measures had the Minister put in place to deal effectively with its non-compliance? What was the time frame for dealing with this non-compliance?
Before 1994, it was known that most black people staying in the townships were renting houses. As they were renting houses, some were eventually allowed to buy them under the 99-year lease programme. Some of them were able to pay off their houses, but some poor people were not able to. After 1994, particularly in the Gauteng province and especially in Soweto, those houses were given for free and title deeds were issued. Whether one was staying in the North West or Gauteng, everyone was a citizen of South Africa and living under one rule of law. Why did the NWHC not give out all those rented houses for free? Some of those rented houses were subsequently forfeited because people were either retrenched from their jobs or could no longer afford to rent. In the North West, some households were given the opportunity to purchase the houses they were initially renting before 1994 over a certain period, but due to job losses, they could no longer afford to continue paying instalments for the houses. Why was the DHS in North West not doing the same thing as was done in Soweto? Why were the houses not given for free? A majority of these people were no longer working, and some of the owners had passed on, leaving children who were also not working, to occupy those houses.
Mr Tseki interrupted and asked if he was allowed to call a point of order. The Chairperson denied this request.
Ms Mokgotho provided the example of house 1389, Unit 4 Mogwase. The house was purchased from the NWHC and the owner had proof that the house was paid up. At some point, the NWHC, through the Moses Kotane Municipality, had come to the residents of Mogwase requiring certain documents and proof that some of the houses that were bought at the time were paid up so that title deeds could be issued to the residents. The NWHC had hired a private company to assist in accumulating information or proof from people who claimed their houses were paid up and wanted the houses to be transferred into their names. The owner of house 1389 had provided all that was required, but when other properties were transferred to their owners in Mogwase, this particular owner’s house was not transferred. Instead, he was told he owed a certain amount of money, even though he had proof that the house was paid up. How was Mr Mogodiri going to assist this owner in having his house transferred into his name? This owner did not owe any money because he had proof from the NWHC with a letterhead stating that he had indeed paid off the house. Why was he told the house had not been paid for?
Mr Tseki said that Ms Mokgotho had made the mistake of missing other houses.
Ms Mokgotho raised a point of order, and said Mr Tseki must not address her; he must ask his question. She did not want any answers from Mr Tseki on the questions she had asked.
The Chairperson said Mr Tseki was not responding to her questions, because he did not have the answers. She asked that Mr Tseki be allowed to talk , because she did not even hear what he was saying and Ms Mokgotho had already interrupted him.
Mr Tseki was disconnected from the platform, so the Chairperson said she would give Mr Tseki the opportunity to engage later.
The Chairperson welcomed the presentation from the Department and the input of the CoT and NWHC. In 1993, the policy instruction issued by Minister Joe Slovo had provided that because government was providing subsidies, all the people who were earning up to R3 500 and were renting throughout the country, would have to get the houses for free. Those who were earning R3 500 to R7 000 qualified for assistance to buy a house. She asked why the North West DHS had not complied with the policy instruction. How was it that after the Minister’s directive, the NWHC continued managing these houses? How was the CoT featured in this whole matter, and how were they selling houses that did not belong to them?
Mr Mogodiri said the R7 500 subsidy was credited to all the 99-year lease properties. Minister Slovo’s pronouncement did not cover bond or loan houses. The NWHC did receive complaints that the CoT was transferring properties that did not belong to them, because it resulted in double sales. The NWHC was unaware of any contravention of the Minister’s directive, and they made it their business to comply and avail all the information relating to the directive. It had signed all the papers relating to the power of attorney for the purposes of the proclamations. The loan book had also been submitted.
City of Tshwane's response
Ms Thring said that one of the contentions they had with the Public Protector’s report was that the City could not sell property that was not theirs. As the Human Settlements Department, they dealt with reconstruction and development programme (RDP) houses, which were those that were transferred -- they were not for sale. This was a matter that needed to be looked at more seriously, because there was no way that the City could sell property that did not belong to them. They also did not deal with bonded property, only with RDP stands and serviced sites. There was no way that the CoT could have sold the properties in question.
Mr Chainee said the DHS would resolve these issues based on the Minister's directive and in the best interests of the citizens and the community in MAWIGA. In Ekurhuleni, there were similar problems such as Ms Mokgotho had raised, where owners still had outstanding balances on the houses. This was an issue that the provincial DHS and NWHC had to take up, along with the MEC and the respective boards. The case was not unique to the North West. The Department could get reports from the North West DHS and CoT concerning these properties and present a report.
Firstly, it was important to get confirmation and clarity around the question of the township establishment and whether it had been done. If it had not been done, then the CoT and NWHC had to undertake that. Secondly, there also had to be verification of the transfers -- why the transfers were made and whether or not there was fraud or corruption involved in that regard. Thirdly, a process of rectification of the legal processes should be required. The Department committed to looking into the matter in totality. It also acknowledged the quick wins, such as the 7 000 uncontested properties. The Department would look into what processes and interventions could be made with regard to those properties where loans were still outstanding. The Department was not in a position to comment on behalf of the NWHC and the CoT on the issues raised by Ms Mokgotho.
Ms Ngxongo said that the presentation had covered all the actions taken by the Department, and where it had failed to accomplish its objectives, it was because it was dependent on its colleagues in North West, the CoT and Gauteng. The presentation also demonstrated that the Minister had done her best to attend to this matter. The Department had also appointed a service provider to work on the issue of title deeds. The point of cooperation between key stakeholders could not be over-emphasised to finalise the matter properly.
Follow up questions
The Chairperson said that the petition before the Committee involved the MAWIGA area, and acknowledged the work being done by the DHS, based on petitions it had received from the same area. The issue in this petition was that the petitioners bought houses from the NWHC and before they received their title deeds, there had been a re-demarcation and the CoT had sold the same houses to other people. The petitioners were now on the streets. She wanted everyone to listen to them, including the NWHC and the CoT. She also wanted the Department to deal with the issue in Thabantsho, where the NWHC was still responsible for all the houses that belonged to the North West province and which were in the former Bophuthatswana area. She did not understand why Mr Mogodiri had said that the pronouncement of the then Minister did not include Bophuthatswana. She asked for clarification in this regard, and said the Committee would also get back to the issue raised by Ms Mokgotho after they had listened to the petitioners.
Mr Ernest Kgasoe, a petitioner, said that the petition was based on the fact that they had been evicted from the houses they paid for. They had bought their houses from NWHC, paid them up, and they had been evicted while waiting to receive their title deeds. They were thrown onto the streets, never given alternative accommodation, and had to figure out how to furnish everything on their own. After this happened, they connected with the NWHC to find out exactly why that had happened. The NWHC had had to prove with documents that the petitioners indeed bought the properties, and they were the only people the NWHC knew.
There was the assertion that the CoT was selling houses, but the petitioners could see that this was not actually true. There were individuals in the offices of the CoT who were doing the dirty job of selling their houses. He agreed with Ms Thring that indeed the CoT did not sell the houses. When people were moved from Bophuthatswana to North West and from North West to Gauteng, there was a grey period which people took advantage of. It was understood that the land belonged to the CoT, but the houses still belonged to North West. However, people were told that the CoT was selling houses, and many documents show that people were saying they had bought their houses from the CoT and had the title deeds as well. This was what gave them the power to evict the petitioners.
The petitioners had endless meetings and inquiries and never got the truth. In 2014, under the leadership of Jason Ngobeni, former CoT city manager, it was said there needed to be an investigation to find out what was happening. After Audit and Risk Management Solutions (ARMS) completed a report under Boreka Motlanthe, the CoT never adhered to the report. The petitioners then had to go to the Public Protector, because they realised that certain individuals within the Department were actually causing these troubles. These white-collar criminals were working with other criminals called estate agents. It was a serious problem that the same people doing the same crimes were trying to help people.
They had proceeded to the Public Protector for an investigation that took about three to four years. The remedial action was supposed to be implemented, but to this day, it was not. The only people who responded were NWHC. He proceeded to read the letter he had received from the NWHC about the complaint lodged with the Public Protector against NWHC and CoT. In the letter, it acknowledged receipt of the report of the Public Protector dated 10 August 2018. It apologised for the long time it took to resolve their matter, and offered them R10 000 as compensation for the delay. The letter requested that his banking details be forwarded to the entity’s CEO. Further, the letter said that the CoT was directed to fast track and prioritise the process of sourcing a suitable alternative property for him, as another individual owned the property in question. This letter was the only feedback they received after the report from the Public Protector.
However, he was disturbed that Mr Mogodiri had said that the NWHC had compensated R10 000 to each individual. He and other members had not received the R10 000, and were regardless unhappy about this offer because R10 000 was nothing compared to the 16 years of struggle they had had to endure. He had been evicted from his house on 27 January 2006 and to this day, they had been running around this issue. It was a worrying factor that even after the report of the Public Protector, nothing had happened. Only after years had they heard that the CoT was now taking the matter on review. How long should it have taken after the report was released, for a review to be considered? In any case, they were there at that meeting to hear from the Committee that the matter would be resolved amicably. The petitioners wanted their properties and wanted redress in terms of damages.
He had gone to Malaysia in September 2006 to represent the country at the Delphic Games -- the arts olympics. As excited as he was at receiving a gold medal, this was what he got at the beginning of the year. His life was derailed. The eviction was a daylight operation, where people took goods from their houses and put them on the street. Corrupt policemen, corrupt sheriffs and corrupt estate agents connived with each other. After the evictions, they started telling people to go and check their houses in the deeds office, and many realised that their houses were no longer in their names. These were very painful experiences and the petitioners were happy to be given the opportunity to meet with the Committee. People had been trying to deny them such opportunities. They had previously tried to meet with the Public Protector herself, and people from her office had refused.
He thanked the Chairperson for allowing them the platform to tell their story, as they had experienced a lot of pain. They had lost opportunities, business, money, and friends. Once a person was in such a problem, people started to look at them differently and started to formulate stories. The day he was evicted, his cousin phoned him and asked him what was happening, because that was how fast bad news travelled. Despite his background and receiving a gold medal for the country, he could not even promote himself. He said the stories of the other petitioners were the same, because the criminals operating would go to the CoT, use their letterheads, and then start to draft so-called title deeds and other documents.
While he commended the action taken by the NWHC, he also blamed them for not doing anything after they were removed from the houses that the NWHC knew they had received money for. The NWHC had had many meetings, and some officials were saying that the petitioners were just troubling them and there was nothing they were fighting for. The petitioners would be happy to see the Committee putting the matter to finality so that they could reconnect with their families and regain happiness, because they had lost so many people due to this issue. He mentioned the names of people who had passed on and said it was bad for a sick, elderly person to be thrown out of their house.
The first night he was thrown out of his house, he and a lawyer went to court to challenge the eviction. They had met Magistrate Van Rooyen, who reversed the initial court order. He took the court order to the sheriff who referred him to the house. When he arrived at the house, he was locked out and the guard guarding the house at that time was actually waiting for the estate agent. He left the house and went to the police station, where the police asked why the court orders were written by different magistrates, and never acted. He had to call a certain prosecutor to assist him, and the prosecutor had tried to explain the court order to the police, who refused. The next day, they went back to the magistrate to inform him that the police were unable to implement his court order. Another letter was written to the police, and that was the end of it. Since that day, he had never gone back to his house.
Ms Bongo Sepeng, a petitioner, said that as a teacher by profession, one could imagine how humiliating it was to be evicted from her house onto the streets. She wished she could have looked Mr Mogodiri in the eye while he was lying. He had never given the petitioners money, and she had not personally received anything from him. The same letter that Mr Kgasoe read from NWHC was the same one she had received. She and her husband did not even want to look into the money, because they had spent a lot of money on lawyers trying to get their houses back with their few cents. She did not understand how they could be given R10 000 after so many years.
The NWHC had given the petitioners an opportunity to indicate whether they were happy or not, and she was not, but since then nothing had happened. Her story was that when she returned home from being a teacher at a high school in the area, there was a man in her house. He had taken all her furniture into one room and was even using her fridge and drinking. There was a fight which could have resulted in someone dying, because she had to find people to restrain this person who was from Thembisa, and worked for the Defence Force. The Ga-Rankuwa residents had helped her throw him and his furniture out of her house. How could they allow residents to fight to the extent of almost killing each other? She did not understand why a policeman had not attended to this matter.
One of the people she worked with at school had bought her house from the NWHC for R50 000. Realising that the person had bought her house, she told another lady, which resulted in her getting a tip off. She immediately went to Mahikeng to try to find out what the problem was. When she got to Mahikeng for her file, she was met by a rude individual who did not even give her a chance until she said that she was not going to leave until the matter was resolved. When challenged by the Public Protector, the MEC for North West had said that the house was not hers, because her name did not appear. This was because her house had been sold to the person from her school who had bought the house for R50 000, and upon realising it was her house, she had demanded the money for the house be paid back. Unfortunately, she did not get her name back on the house. The next thing, the house was sold again by the same agent through the same bank, and it was clear that it was the same modus operandi.
It seemed to her that the NWHC and the CoT were playing delaying tactics. With the hide and seek they were displaying currently, it seemed that they were enjoying seeing the petitioners crying, because last time she spoke, she had been crying because she could not look at her ill husband who had since passed on. She could not cry beyond the way she had cried, because she did not have anyone to support her -- she was all alone. It seemed that the NWHC and CoT would enjoy seeing them die, after which they would say that they could not get their properties back because they were dead.
She did not want to be called to a meeting like this again -- this was Parliament and it was her last mile. She did not want to see Ms Thring again, because the CoT was not interested at all since they were taking the report to court for review. She knew they were staying in beautiful houses, comfortably placed and sleeping well, which was why they were delaying things, yet she was suffering and would not forget how South Africa was treating its own people. She could not go beyond what they had already done. The recommendations of the Public Protector contained all the documents and information the petitioners had provided, and everything had been checked. She asked that the R10 000 compensation be reconsidered, because this issue was not child’s play. If they had been in her boots, they would have understood. They did not even sell her house for R10 000 -- they sold it for R50 000 -- showing how they did not care about them. This was the final step she was taking. She wanted South Africa to know her position and just wanted her property back so she could sleep in peace.
Ms Marie Ledingoane, a petitioner, appeared on behalf of her parents, who had passed on. Presently her family was homeless and wanted to be assisted. The petitioners had travelled long distances to places like Mahikeng in pursuit of their properties. As it was, some people had received the R10 000, but her family had not received it. It was painful that her mother who suffered from a stroke, was evicted from 309 Block X in Mabopane, and they had suffered a lot. Some of the people with whom they had travelled had passed on, including her mother. She humbly requested the Committee to assist the petitioners, because the suffering the people of Mabopane were going through was hell.
Mr Michael Mere, a petitioner from Ga-Rankuwa Zone 2, was the only one not removed from his property, because the property he bought was a business property. He had bought the property from the NWHC and it had about 15 buildings on it. When he bought it, he wanted to provide student accommodation at the time, because Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2009 had approached him for accommodation purposes. The TUT had given him a letter of intent, which he took to the bank. The bank told him it could not help him with money because he needed a title deed. He had then appointed an attorney, who had written to the NWHC and CoT in vain. This was more than 15 years ago, and now his buildings were dilapidated and he could not do proper business.
The last time the petitioners had a meeting with the CoT and the Public Protector, the only thing he asked them for was a title deed for him to conduct business. Today, those 15 dilapidated buildings could be seen next to the TUT. He told the NWHC and CoT that they had ruined his business and life. He had approached the Public Protector who released a report, then suddenly, he heard from Mr Kgasoe that the matter was being reviewed. He was not even served, because they had served him at the wrong address. He was still young when he bought the property, and could have done so much. He read the letter of intent from TUT in 2009, signed by the deputy vice-chancellor, which provided for the accommodation of 200 to 350 students. He had lost so much because the money involved was around R67 million at the time. He could have provided accommodation right next to the university, but today students were using buses to get to town because of the NWHC and CoT. He hoped that this would be the last meeting that would be held, and thanked the Committee.
The Chairperson commented that the matter was so serious that it was evoking the emotions of the petitioners.
Ms Mokgotho said that when Mr Mogodiri had mentioned that the NWHC bought only houses, they did not buy land. She said that when the Bophuthatswana government started building these houses, they did not build the houses on air. The houses were built on land that belonged to the Bophuthatswana government. The government had then assigned the NWHC to manage the business side of the houses. After 1994, it could not be said that only the houses were transferred to the NWHC. The land belonging to the Bophuthatswana government, inclusive of the houses, was transferred to the NWHC.
Before 1994, all the houses that were rented belonged to the former government. After the new dispensation, the government instructed that all the people renting those houses that belonged to it were to be given those houses for free. For example, in Soweto, some people rented houses, some people bought houses under 99-year leasehold, and others rented the houses to purchase them in the future. Some of these people eventually began the process of buying these houses from the NWHC. It was unfair for the people in Thabantsho, who were renting former Bophuthatswana houses, and the people in Mogwase, to be told that they had to keep paying instalments. People were living in a state of fear over their houses, because some were not working and others had died before completing the purchase of their houses, with only their children living there and not knowing whether they could be evicted. She said that the owner of the land was in fact the government, and that it was the Bophuthatswana government that had built the houses that people bought, so it was obvious that the houses needed to be transferred with the land. Everyone in South Africa had to be treated the same, meaning those people in North West also had to receive houses freely.
Having listened to the petitioners, it seemed as if there were people who were more privileged than others in South Africa. Some people were above the law, especially these Human Settlements officials and municipal officials who mistreated the people and took what belonged to them for their own benefit. This could not happen under the watch of the Portfolio Committee, because the Members had taken an oath in Parliament that they would serve the people. The petitioners had said they had nowhere to go, and that Parliament was their last hope. The matter needed to end here. It was a pity that the Minister was not present, but she was happy that the officials from the NWHC and CoT were present to hear the petitioners. She requested that the petitioners be given their properties. Mr Mogodiri had not responded to the question she had asked him about house 1389 Unit 4 Mogwase. She was not certain whether he had deliberately ignored the question and if so, he was not fit to be in office.
Mr Tseki said these stories were painful to hear and these issues needed to be processed properly. He said he knew of this case and these petitioners personally, as they had met him in the previous administration while he was still in Gauteng. He said the state must be allowed to respond to their grievances and provide answers so that there could be terms of reference moving forward, particularly concerning the CoT. The DHS would then be able to process their personal losses, whether in the form of income, psychological or any other losses experienced by human beings. The Department at large was central in dealing with the matter, and he requested that it provide time frames on when it could resolve this matter and come back with a report. In his view, the matter must be resolved within three months. He acknowledged that this time frame might be long for the petitioners. In the process, those houses that could be returned to their owners as a matter of urgency should be returned. The Department had to ensure that the matter was progressively resolved and factor in any loss the community had suffered in its resolution.
Mr Malematja recommended that the Minister ensure that a case is opened to deal with the chain of people involved in the matter. It was not in MAWIGA alone where the police and officials involved could be found to be the very same people buying the houses. To make things worse, they were buying for rental purposes, and were able to go to court and get an eviction order granted with the sheriff who was working with them. There needed to be a case study showing who was involved and where the money was going. If it was agreed that the houses belonged to the petitioners, they must go back to their houses. Those who bought the houses illegally must be out of the houses.
Concerning the compensation, what was R10 000 compared to current inflation? What could one buy with R10 000 -- a person could not get a shack for R10 000. Last year in Tzaneen, the Premier had handed over shacks estimated to cost R45 000, yet the NWHC wanted to give the petitioners a mere R10 000. The petitioners did not want money that would cover only their travelling costs and other things, but not buy their properties. The worst was humiliating a person who came from representing the country at a world tournament. He said this matter needed to be dealt with harshly and be used to set an example, because such incidents were happening everywhere in South Africa and officials were not being held accountable. They needed to get heavier sentences, including losing everything they had worked for in those years, equal to the petitioners who had lost their houses which were meant for their future.
The Chairperson asked what the CoT wanted to take on review.
City of Tshwane's response
Ms Thring said that CoT had heard the petitioners on a few of the issues, and was aware of the matters that had arisen through this. What was being taken on review was the Public Protector’s report, because the information that the CoT had provided was not included in the report. There were many things in the report that the CoT was uncomfortable with, particularly the report's finding on the role of the CoT. She agreed that the land was owned by the City, but reminded the Committee that the houses were bonded houses and were owned by the NWHC.
Mr Tseki interrupted and said that the question was simple. What did the City want to review? What was the way forward? He asked her not to bring up history.
The Chairperson requested that she be allowed to chair the meeting. She was aware that the topic was very sensitive and emotional. She asked the CoT to clarify what part they were reviewing because, since the matter was pending in court, the Committee had to be considerate on certain matters. What was understood was that the CoT had sold houses that were not theirs. The land they claimed to be theirs belonged to the Bophuthatswana government. If a person bought a house and not the land, where was their policy coming from? She really wanted to understand where the CoT entered in this matter. The CoT had found houses they did not own and had sold them with the view that the land belonged to them. The land did not belong to Tshwane as a city -- they had inherited the land from the Bophuthatswana government which had built the houses there -- so what was the CoT trying to tell the Committee?
Ms Thring said that although some of the land, not all, was in the name of the City, the top structures were bonded structures and were therefore not in the name of the City. If any property was sold, the sale agreements were from the NWHC, not the CoT because the City was unable to sell property that did not belong to it. The view that CoT had sold the properties was incorrect. There was an investigation report done for the CoT in this regard, and one of the recommendations was that the matter be taken to court, but the CoT did not have the locus standi to take it to court because the properties did not belong to them.
The Chairperson asked where the person who sold the houses in the name of CoT was. What had CoT done about it?
Ms Thring reiterated her point that it was impossible for the City to have sold property, not in its name. On the way forward, she suggested that the National Department take on the matter, and that an investigation be conducted to find out exactly where the problems were. The Public Protector’s report had been taken on review because it contained a lot of inaccuracies around roles and responsibilities, what had happened and what processes had been undertaken. The CoT had done what it could in terms of the township establishments, where some of them were older and where documentation was available. They were still working on it, but three townships had been proclaimed. In the fourth township, sale agreements were being concluded, and there had to be a way to expedite the process. However, she was unsure whether there was another way to address the issue, given the relationship between the Department and Treasury and the available capacity. It was most probably best that the Department continue with an investigation and make a ruling on who needed to do what, and how the beneficiaries could be assisted as quickly as possible.
The Chairperson said that Ms Thring had said it was not the CoT that had sold the houses, while the petitioners were saying it was indeed the CoT. This meant somebody had used the City’s name to sell the houses. Why had the CoT not done anything about the issue? She asked the petitioners what evidence they had that the CoT sold the houses.
Mr Kgasoe said that the petitioners had evidence in the form of documents that reflected that the CoT sold the properties. In his case, people had said that CoT sold them the property, but there was no City of Tshwane at that time. There were some contradictions, and people committed crimes without remembering the incorrect stories they had previously told. Regarding house 309, the person who claimed to have bought the property had said he bought it for R170 000. The person who bought his house had the same story. He was not sure about Ms Sepeng’s case. The estate agents used CoT documents in collaboration with their employees. They would then register the house in the name of a person who wanted the house. They would tell the person to go to the bank and borrow money against the house, which was how they would get their money. This person would remain with a problem with the bank. This was what they, as petitioners, had discovered when they dug deeper into the matter. Even though Ms Thring was saying that the CoT was not selling houses, the petitioners had proof and documents that could be sent to their offices for them to see for themselves. While the NWHC was trying to address issues on their side, the CoT was doing something else, which would result in selling a house to two people.
The CoT did not want to help the petitioners because they kept saying that they did not sell the properties, but did not want to follow up on the issue. A head of legal at the CoT had signed a title deed, and she was not supposed to have done that. After leaving the CoT, this official went to the North West. The petitioners had followed her, made an appointment with her, and she did not know who they were. After they revealed who they were and the documents she signed, she was shocked and said she had been misled. The problem with Ms Thring was that she did not want to listen. The petitioners had spoken at length with her, saying that the CoT needed to do research and make findings. The first investigation that Mr Boreka Motlanthe did had guided them on how to embark on the investigation process, and the City had refused. This was also the case with the second investigation by the Public Protector. He said that the City’s lawyer was misleading them all the time. Having listened to Ms Thring, he said she was not helping in coming up with a resolution to the problem.
Mr Mogodiri said there were perceptions and then there were facts. The first fact was that the petitioners were not treated fairly by the CoT. The second fact was that their properties were being transferred to people other than them. The petitioners were not lying when they said they had legally purchased the properties from the legal owner, the NWHC. Upon investigating the possibility of reversing the registration of those properties, the process was deemed complicated because the first buyer would have sold to the second buyer, who would have sold to the third. The NWHC and CoT were not saying that the Public Protector had erred. The NWHC should make available land in the same vicinity where the petitioners had purchased, and the CoT should be able to assist with subsidies, either through a DHS grant or the Finance-Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP). The more this matter was investigated, the more the petitioners would be embattled and the legal suit would be complicated.
Regarding the house 1389 in Mogwase, the NWHC had noted Ms Mokgotho’s name and would be exchanging documents with her to resolve the matter. There could be no excitement on their part to prohibit tenure of security of the previously disadvantaged. It was unnecessary to spend more money on opening cases, hiring lawyers, and putting the petitioners through further emotions. The NWHC was availing pieces of land and would make a submission to the Department by Tuesday next week. The petitioners should be able to see if they were comfortable with those pieces of land being transferred into their names.
He said he had not understood when talking about the Bophuthatswana bond houses. The NWHC had complied with the Minister’s directive about rented four-room houses, and the directive applied throughout the country, but the directive did not cancel the bonds that were entered into between the buyer and seller of the houses, so there could be no suggestion that there was a Bophuthatswana legacy to protect. He acknowledged no difference between owning the land or the house. If a person bought a house, they got the title deed for that house. A different person could not get an alternative title deed for the land.
On the report of NWHC, the Corporation apologised and offered an ex gratia payment. R10 000 sounded like a very small amount of money, but it had been calculated against the property. If the property was R27 000, an ‘askies’ fee of R10 000 would be paid, being over 30% of the amount.
The NWHC would continuously support the petitioners in any way they could, and would be submitting their commitment to providing land in writing to the Department by Tuesday. He said that whatever money could be spent on lawyers should be spent on restorative justice for the petitioners.
The Chairperson asked how the matter would be resolved from the view of the Department.
Mr Chainee said that what Mr Mogodiri had indicated and the commitment he made was helpful. What the Department could do was collate all the documentation around the matter, and look at the options and restitution measures the Department could put in place. The Department intended that after this meeting concluded, they could take the matter forward through the office of the Minister. Mr Mogodiri’s point was important, in that it did not really make sense to spend so much money to resolve a legal point. He committed on behalf of the Department to come back to the Committee within the next three months with a report on how the Department, the NWHC and the CoT could look at resolving the issue. One of the options was to ensure that the petitioners were restituted in terms of their properties and, if not, look at alternative options. On the matter concerning the CoT, he suggested that the Committee call the Public Protector to look into the matter.
Ms Werner said that the matter of the petitioners had been brought to the attention of the Department a week ago. It was incorrect for the CoT to say that the matter formed part of the MAWIGA intervention. She thought she had made it clear that the MAWIGA intervention concerned the 7 000 uncontested properties that the Department had taken over from Gauteng through the ministerial declaration.
On the Chairperson’s question of what the CoT was taking on review, items 7.2 to 7.4 of the Public Protector's report said that to do right by these beneficiaries, the CoT, the mayor and the city manager must provide alternative housing and basic services. They had to ensure that the township was established and implement the findings of their own investigation report that they had conducted on the matter, and similar matters in 2013. They also had to provide the Public Protector with a report on other persons who had been deprived of their title deeds and subsequent ownership in a similar matter. They had to institute civil proceedings against the people who had sold properties illegally and irregularly in their name. They had to grant Mr Mere consent and use the property he wanted to use for business purposes. These were the recommendations that the City was taking on review.
She agreed with Mr Chainee’s sentiments about restitution and what could be done. Since 2018, the Public Protector's remedial action has not been implemented and was not being taken on review. She supported the suggestion that the Public Protector’s office maybe be summoned to the Committee to explain what legal options were available to it when its remedial actions were being disregarded the way they had been. The Department remained committed to resolving the plight of these particular beneficiaries, although they did not form part of the original MAWIGA portfolio of the Department.
Ms Ngxongo said the Department was being guided by the report of the Public Protector and the discussions of the Committee. The DHS noted the commitment by Mr Mogodiri as progressive. As Mr Mogodiri would be writing administratively to the Department, there was also a need for correspondence between the MEC and the Minister to officially deal with the matter.
The outcome of the proposal that the Public Protector should appear before the Committee would assist in the review in determining exactly what was sold. The petitioners were not only demanding their houses but also referring to the total loss they had suffered and the process needed to include these losses. The Committee had given the Department a three months' deadline, so the Department had to make sure that within these three months, the Human Settlements sector interacted and found a way to solve this issue. She believed that everybody agreed that going the legal route was not going to serve anyone, and was not in anybody’s interest. She called for all the relevant parties to work together to correct the wrongs that had been done as soon as possible.
The Minister would be briefed on this matter, and any guidance and input from her would influence how the Department should move forward. The Department would not be delaying this matter because it knew the impact of this case going forward.
The Chairperson said she did not understand why the CoT did not want to open a case against the people who had sold houses in their name. Instead of dealing with these people, the CoT wanted to challenge the report of the Public Protector. The CoT was saying that the land belonged to the Bophuthatswana government because there was a demarcation, and at some point, the Ga-Rankuwa people were in North West. This meant that the land belonged to the North West government in terms of the current demarcation. There was supposed to have been a formal handing over of those properties in Ga-Rankuwa from North West to the CoT when the new demarcations put the land in Gauteng. The issue now was that the CoT was selling the houses on the basis that the land belonged to the City.
She sensed that there was corruption in this regard, and did not know why the CoT could not see corrupt activity happening. Even if the NWHC was involved in the process of selling the houses, there was supposed to have been a formal process of handing over, such as the people from Hammanskraal who were at some point under the North West and came into Tshwane. There were people from Marapyane who were previously under Bophuthatswana but were now in Mpumalanga. There were people from Moutse and other areas who were in Mpumalanga, and at some point, in Limpopo too.
As these demarcations were arranged, there were supposed to be formal processes to determine whether the land was inherited. She did not understand how the state agencies, magistrates and people processing the court issues had failed to recognise the taking-over processes. Even if the land belonged to the previous government of Mangope, there were supposed to be formal processes for ownership to be claimed. She wondered if these issues came to the attention of the four petitioners only by coincidence, or by the fact that they knew they could petition the CoT and NWHC. What about other citizens who were not aware of the situation?
She said the meeting would not conclude without a way forward. While engaging with her counterparts in the provinces, the Minister had to start focusing and taking cognisance of all the properties government owned. One of the probable reasons there were issues with title deeds because there were no formal processes for handing over the houses to the people in those houses. It could be that this was also the case with selling houses in the township. Could the Department take it upon itself to review this matter and start to correct the situation?
On the issue of the petition, she again asked why the CoT was not opening a case against the officials who had sold the houses, since they claimed it was not the City. They must go and investigate and return to the Committee with an answer. Parliament was going to engage the Public Protector to ensure that the matter was resolved by opening a case. The Hawks or Special Investigating Unit's (SIU’s) crime intelligence unit could also be involved to look into the matter. The implications were that the CoT and NWHC would be liable for the costs of appointing forensic auditors. If the NWHC claimed that they owned the houses because they were sold to them by the CoT, why did it not take the CoT to court or inform the CoT that it could not sell the houses and thereby protect their people?
The NWHC offered the petitioners R10 000 after they had suffered for 16 years. Why was the NWHC not opening a case if the houses being sold by others belonged to them? Why was the CoT not opening a case or worried about the people selling houses in their name? She requested answers from the NWHC and CoT in two weeks' time, and reminded them that they were supposed to represent the people. She also reminded the CoT that they were a council of people elected by the very same people they were ill-treating. Why did they allow the situation to continue for 16 years and take so long to take the report for review after it had been presented? The Committee wanted both the NWHC and CoT to open a case on this matter to protect those who were not aware that they could have taken their issues to Parliament as a form of consequence management. The CoT was trying to avoid consequence management and leaving the petitioners to use their own money to take these issues to court when the CoT could have used state resources to resolve the matter.
Mr Tseki said that without changing anything that the Chairperson had said, he assumed that the letter she was requesting from the NWHC and CoT would also include the Committee’s request for the mayor of Tshwane to appear before the Committee so that he could explain all the variances. What the NWHC said may be progressive in terms of possible alternative land, but there should also be options for the petitioners. The provision of alternative land could not address the loss of business of one of the petitioners. It would be more strategic to listen to how best that matter could be resolved. In all these processes, he said the petitioners needed to be involved so that when those proposals from the Department came, they would not be in a situation where the petitioners were nowhere to be found in terms of participating in possible options like what had been proposed already by the NWHC.
Ms Thring reiterated that the investigation report had been done, but the CoT had been advised that they could not open a case because they did not have the locus standi to do that. There had been lots of meetings with the Public Protector. The CoT had attended all these meetings and, on many occasions, had tried to solve the issues. The third party in the Public Protector's document was the province, so she was not sure why they were not at the meeting because there were also some issues they had been requested to respond to. If there was a follow up meeting, it would be critical that the province be present.
The proposal made by the NWHC was very useful, but subsidies were from national and province, and therefore it would be critical that the province be part of the project and that they also manage these projects. The CoT would ensure that they would do what they could to support and address this issue as they had been doing in the last few years, and would continue to engage with the petitioners around their matters to try and find ways to support them. In terms of the opening of townships, which was one of the issues they had to deal with, the three cases had been dealt with and it was just one case they were still battling with. However, they had engaged on many platforms to try and sort out the issue.
She thanked the Department for the presentation.
The Chairperson requested that the CoT and NWHC provide reasons in writing why they had not opened a case of this matter in two weeks' time. The CoT had advised that they did not have the legal standing to open a case, yet the petitioners had evidence showing that the CoT had sold their houses. The Committee would get the documents of the petitioners so that as it prepared for the meeting in three months, investigations would have been done and actions put in motion to resolve the issues raised by the petitioners. If somebody sold something on behalf of the CoT, they were supposed to get worried and open a case. If they did not open a case, could the Committee be informed in writing why they had not done so? This was so the Committee could be advised by its legal representative in Parliament as it intervened on the matter.
Ms Mokgotho said she did not hear Mr Mogodiri's response on the issue of the transfer of ownership of house number 1389 Unit 4 Mogwase. Again, she would like NWHC to start with the formal process of handing over all the houses that were rented with the intention to buy, and all the houses that were built by the former Bophuthatswana government, and provide the timeline of that process. She concurred with everything the Chairperson had said.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mogodiri if the Committee would be able to get a response within two weeks.
Mr Mogodiri said that NWHC would respond within two weeks. The expectation that the NWHC take the CoT to court was mainly to deal with intergovernmental relations, but government should not take each other to court because of its complaint against the city. It would be a bit chaotic for government to take each other to court. It would be exhausting to concentrate on what happened, because the NWHC knew what had happened, in that the CoT had transferred the properties.
The Chairperson said that the CoT had said it was not they who had transferred the properties.
Mr Mogodiri said that this conflict did not help to resolve the issue at hand. The NWHC wanted to focus its efforts on helping the petitioners get their land so that there was restorative justice. It would write to the Committee and check the possibility of taking the CoT to court, otherwise it would be a back and forth situation. On the house in Mogwase, he had directed his office to get the Member’s details so that they could email her the proof of the account, which showed that the owner of property 1389 Unit 4 Mogwase still owed the NWHC. Its business was to buy and sell property. If they just gave away properties upon which money was owed, this would result in its technical closure. He had the details of the property in front of him and would provide them. They could concentrate on unearthing what had happened in the past, but the focus should be on ensuring that the petitioners got their justice because in the next 18 months, the Committee’s term would also expire and he did not want the petitioners to brief a new Committee.
The Chairperson assured that the Committee would handle and prioritise the petitioners’ matter till conclusion. The Department had to work with their counterparts in the provinces to deal with the pre-1994 houses, and would have to brief the Committee going forward on how they handled them. When the Committee would be engaging on the title deeds, it could be discovered that the blockage of the pre-1994 title deeds was due to similar issues. Human Settlements would have to look at how to fast track and resolve all these issues systematically. The Committee understood that the NWHC was providing bonds which were not part of the houses included in Minister Joe Slovo’s directive, but if the houses were built under previous governments, she requested the Department to clarify and deal with these issues and inform the Committee on how they were going to resolve them, because these houses were the basis of the NWHC’s existence. She requested that NWHC interact with the Department in this regard and return to the Committee in three months with clarity on the houses throughout the country and where they stood in terms of government policy.
It was understood that everybody who qualified for a government subsidy was supposed to be covered within that policy prescript. Where the NWHC had utilised their own money to get ownership of the properties, they had to engage with the Department regarding subsidy arrangements and ways to get their money back. People did not know the difference between local, provincial or national government, and saw them as one thing. Therefore national policy also had to be applied to the lower levels.
The Committee expected the Department to come back with clarity on Thabantsho. The people of Thabantsho were complaining that they were not given title deeds and were threatened with eviction. This matter had to be dealt with by identifying those houses, looking at individual beneficiaries, determining whether they qualified for subsidies, and where the Department had spent resources, to engage with the provincial DHS.
In the next three months, when the Committee met with the Department, it should have a concrete action plan and the MinMec, through the Minister, should have interacted on ways to resolve these issues. She implored the NWHC, the CoT and the Department to engage with each other around the issues and find a way forward. She requested the CoT to send a letter explaining why they did not have locus standi to open a case and why they wanted to review the Public Protector’s report. She said the Department must draw in the provincial departments, and she wanted the political principals to be part of the meeting in three months to resolve the matters as soon as possible. She checked whether the petitioners understood the way forward as had been put forward.
Ms Sepeng thanked the Committee. The three months period proposed was too long, but the petitioners would wait. She said that the culprits were the NWHC and CoT, because they knew the petitioners’ story and what was happening. Mr Mogodiri knew the story about the office that sold her house, and he could go there and find out the full story. She said the NWHC had to open a case for staff members who sat in those offices when the houses were sold. She was not going to mention the CoT because she had a contract with NWHC. The NWHC had sold her house for R50 000, given it to another person, and removed her name from the file. They knew the person who had done that, and she had referred them to that office. She had visited that office numerous times and told them in no uncertain terms that so long as she believed that she was South African, she would fight. The matter was never meant to reach this level.
This situation showed that the CoT disregarded the law of the land. After the Public Protector’s recommendation, the CoT had been asked to respond within 30 days, which they did not, but instead had ignored it for many years. When they were expected to come to the table, they had made the petitioners wait for five years, during which she had lost her husband. Ms Thring was sitting and sleeping comfortably without knowing where she was sleeping. She was not going to take this matter further, but believed and trusted that it had gone to the highest level. People had to be arrested, and Mr Mogodiri knew who had to be arrested. She told him to go and get those people arrested and stop saying that the NWHC could not open a case against the CoT. Ultimately it would resolve itself if the NWHC started by arresting the person that had sold her house.
Mr Kgasoe thanked the Committee for allowing the petitioners the opportunity, and was looking forward to ending this long-standing problem. Perhaps they would even regain their health. They had so many things to report. If the Committee could decide to help the petitioners address their matters, they would be very appreciative.
Mr Mere thanked the Committee and said that he hoped he would have his title deed in three months and regain what he had lost. He invited Mr Mogodiri and Ms Thring to visit and look at his property called Speedy Training Centre next to the TUT.
Ms Ledingoane thanked the Committee and said that the petitioners highly appreciated all the steps taken. As for Mr Mogodiri, she said that they needed that R10 000 and were patiently waiting for it.
Mr Malematja said there was an issue on which Mr Mogodiri seemed to contradict himself. The Committee was looking for the people who sold land, and it was clear from the CoT that they never sold land and did not know who had sold the land. The Committee said a case must be opened based on that point. Trained people would handle the case to investigate the root cause of why the matter was before the Committee. The Chairperson’s closing remarks had been very clear -- the NWHC should bring the reasons why they could not open a case, and the Committee would take it further. The Committee wanted the case to be opened, and it would be dismissed by a judge.
He thanked the petitioners for being the whistle-blowers for the Committee. As parliamentarians, it was their duty to demand the opening of the case to deal with these house "mafias" consisting of estate agents, sheriffs and police officers working together.
Ms Mokgotho thanked the petitioners for the way they had helped the Committee to handle this matter. She was hoping that the petitioners would be happy at the end of this matter. She thanked everyone who participated in the meeting.
Ms Ngxongo said that the Department was covered by the Committee’s directives.
Ms Thring said that with this matter going on for so long, she hoped it would be resolved. The three month period was long for the petitioners, but she was hoping that the CoT would take that time to ensure that they responded to the petitioners as appropriately as possible, with the assistance of the national and provincial governments.
Mr Mogodiri thanked the Committee, and said that the NWHC was guided by the resolutions of this meeting.
The Chairperson thanked everyone for having come to the meeting. She requested that the Members of the Committee stay, along with the staff of Parliament, to deal with internal matters.
The meeting was adjourned.
Semenya, Ms MR
Malematja, Mr C N
Mkhize, Dr Z
Mokgotho, Ms SM
Powell, Ms EL
Sihlwayi, Ms NN
Tafeni, Ms N
Tseki, Mr MA
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