ATC230315: Report of the Joint Proactive Oversight visits by the Select Committee on Security and Justice, and the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements) to Free State Province, Dated: 15 March 2023
NCOP Security and Justice
Report of the Joint Proactive Oversight visits by the Select Committee on Security and Justice, and the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements) to Free State Province, Dated: 15 March 2023
1. Introduction and Background
Military Veterans background meeting in Parliament.
1.1 The Select Committee on Security and Justice, together with the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements), having conducted joint oversight visits to the Free State Province, from 16 to 19 August 2022, report to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) as follows:
1.2 On 5 March 2021, the Select Committee on Security and Justice as part of the Committee’s strategic plan, hosted a joint meeting with the SC Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements Committee with the Department of Military Veterans.
1.3 The Committee’s engagement with the DMV was to gain a better understanding of the progress they have made, in particular, the Committee was interested in the distribution of houses, the illegal occupation of houses meant for military veterans and how this will be addressed. At that meeting the Committees had undertaken to conduct an oversight visit to better understand the distribution of housing benefits.
1.4 The Committee was also interested in engaging the Department of Human Settlements who are responsible for the delivery of houses. The primary aim of the oversight visit was therefore to understand the challenges encountered in the Free State Province in the distribution of housing benefits to military veterans with a view to collectively addressing these challenges and to propose a way forward.
1.5 Therefore, on 17 August 2022, a joint delegation of both Select Committees engaged with the Free State Department of Human Settlements and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, and also visited the housing projects in Hillside View, Riebeeckstad and Rheederspark, as part of the oversight inspection.
2. Objectives of the Proactive Oversight Visits
2.1 To interact with the Department Military Veterans (DMV) and the Department of Human Settlements (DHS), and asses housing delivery benefits in the Free State Province.
2.2 Conduct site visits to housing projects, and solicit the opinions of the beneficiaries on the standard and quality of housing projects.
3. Delegation of the Select Committees
3.1 The delegation of the Select Committee was composed of the following Members of Parliament and officials: Hon BN Ndongeni (ANC) Eastern Cape; Hon EM Mthethwa (ANC) KwaZulu-Natal; Hon NH Hadebe (IFP) KwaZulu-Natal; Hon M Bartlett (ANC) Northern Cape; Hon IM Sileku (DA) Western Cape; Hon K Motsamai (EFF) Gauteng; Hon S Zandamela (EFF) Mpumalanga; Hon AD Maleka (ANC) Mpumalanga; Hon S Shaikh (ANC) Limpopo; Hon TSC Dodovu (ANC) North West; Mr TM Manele (Committee Secretary); Mr N Mfuku (Content Advisor); Adv M Mbebe (Procedural Officer); Mr G Dixon (Committee Secretary); Mr Z Rento (Committee Secretary) and Mr B Lwazi (Committee Assistant).
4. General Overview of the Proactive Oversight Visits
4.1 During the period of the oversight visits, the joint delegation of both Select Committees interacted with the Free State MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, and senior officials from the Department of Defence and Military Veterans.
4.2 On 17 August 2022, the joint delegation of the Select Committees visited the Hillside View Military Veterans, Riebeeckstad Military Veterans, and Rheederspark Military Veterans.
5. Briefing by the Department of Human Settlements and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans
5.1 The Free State MEC for Human Settlements and his team, jointly with the delegation from the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, briefed the joint delegation on the housing benefits for the Military Veterans.
5.2 The MEC in his opening remarks, mentioned that the main focus of the Military Veterans has been on housing, which was not supposed to be, since there are many other functions they could strategically undertake, as many of them are unemployed.
5.3 Many are not being able to take care for their families, and their children are not able to attend proper schools. Unfortunately, Government has been unable to take care of them, but only when they are dead and then they are given dignified funerals. Some are fortunate to be given farms to run, and are doing very well in that field.
5.4 The MEC reported that the Department is faced with a challenge of not having a proper database of the Military Veterans, and there is a challenge with some who are illegally occupying those houses, and would have to be evicted.
6. Sites Visit to Housing of Military Veterans (Hillside View)
6.1 The joint delegation conducted a site visit to Hillside View, and interacted with the group of Military Veterans, to solicit their views on the standard and quality of the provision of housing.
7. Key Challenges Identified Related to Housing Provision
7.1 The following challenges were identified in Hillside View:
· The houses were not properly built, as they are leaking and have many structural defects. The houses were not build at the same standard and quality with the ones in other areas.
· The beneficiaries were not happy at all with their houses, but are in a process of being provided with their title deeds. The project has 50 units, but it took 7 years for the Department to build them.
· There are 4 units which are not connected to the main sewer pipe. There is also a major challenge of not having even a single Military Veterans’ company that is subcontracted to build houses in the Province. The houses are not properly fenced, as some are even built very close to each other.
8. Observations of the Joint Delegation
8.1 The joint delegation was very concerned about the state and conditions that the Military Veterans were leaving under at the Hillside View Military Veterans, as opposed to what was presented by the two Departments.
8.2 The joint delegation was very disappointed that it took the Departments 7 years to build 50 units, and concerns were raised about the way in which the houses were being fenced, as some fencing crossed over one house carport.
9. Recommendations of the Joint Delegation
9.1 The following recommendations were made:
9.1.1 The Free State Department of Human Settlements, and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, should engage the construction company that has built the Military Veterans houses, in order for it to rectify the major structural defects.
9.1.2 The Free State Department of Human Settlements, and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, should provide the joint delegation with the exact funds that has been spent for the past 7 years in building the 50 units.
9.1.3 The Department of Human Settlements in Free State should speedy resolve the issue of the 4 units that are not connected to the main sewer pipe, as it is a health hazard to those beneficiaries.
10. Site Visits to Housing of Military Veterans (Riebeeckstad and Rheederspark)
10.1 The joint delegation visited the Riebeeckstad View Military Veterans and engaged with the contractor. Members were very pleased with the quality of work that was done by the contractor, and hoped that he will finish all the 21 units that he was busy building.
10.2 The joint delegation also visited the Rheederspark View Military Veterans, and engaged with a group of Military Veterans. A total of 20 units has been completed and occupied. Only 4 Military Veterans were approved on the list of the Department of Military Veterans.
10.3 There were 16 Military Veterans who are not on the list of the Department of Military Veterans, but were occupying the houses. The second phase has been implemented in Rheederspark, with 22 Military Veterans approved on the Department’s list.
11. Key Challenges Identified Related to Housing Provision (House no.1 of Mr Makhanda)
11.1 The following challenges were identified:
· The Local Municipality was not involved in the planning phase of the Military Veteran’s houses.
· There was a challenge of the roof structure which was not properly done, as during windy days it is a major issue. The main bedroom was leaking, (doors and floor tiles were not properly fitted).
· The blockage of sewer line, which was only attended to on Friday before the oversight visit by the joint delegation. There are 7 houses without electricity for the past 3 years. The Deputy President has visited the area and instructed the Premier to address the matter.
· There was a challenge of the provision of the bulk services to these houses, which still remains a major concern.
12. Key Challenges Related to Housing Provision (House no.2 of Mr Mokoena, who is a disabled occupant)
12.1 Mr Mokoena indicated that he was generally happy with the size of the house. There are a lot of structural defects in his house. The ceiling is about to collapse because of the leaking roof, as a result, the colour of the walls has changed (fungus). There are no ventilations at these houses which is a health hazard / danger to the lives of the beneficiaries.
12.2 Sewer, which was running all over his yard, was identified as a challenge, and it has been reported to the Local Municipality, but he has not received any joy.
13. Key Challenges Related to Housing Provision (House no.3 of Mr Depi)
13.1 The brickwork is substandard and it is easily scratched, and will deteriorate with wind and rain erosion. It requires plastering.
13.2 The roof construction needed numerous repairs, but continues to leak. The occupant has to move the bed around to avoid leaks.
13.3 There is no provision of electricity to this section of the site.
13.4 The tile work is running skew, indicating that the house is not built to square or up to standard.
14. Observations of the Joint Delegation
14.1 The joint delegation was very concerned about the conduct of the Local Municipality, to only attend to the service delivery challenges due the oversight visit.
14.2 Furthermore, they were not satisfied with the work done by the construction company, as the work was of poor workmanship, and the conditions that Mr Mokoena lived under, and that his house should receive special attention.
15. Recommendations of the Joint Delegation
15.1 The following recommendations were made:
15.1.1 The Free State Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements should conduct a follow-up oversight visit to these Military Veteran’s houses.
15.1.2 The Free State Department of Human Settlements should do an inspection of all the houses and engage the construction company and the NHBRC, in order to rectify all the structural defects.
15.1.3 The construction company, together with the Free State Department of Human Settlements, should as a matter of urgency, attend to the house of Mr Mokoena as he is disabled.
15.1.4 The Department of Cogta and the municipality must ensure electrical provision to the site.
Report to be considered.