Eastern Cape Human Settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August will spend the next two months leading a team of officials to different communities to probe how thousands of RDP houses in the province are occupied by people who are not the legal beneficiaries.
This follows years of complaints, allegations of large-scale corruption and the manipulation of beneficiary lists which has seen thousands who were meant to get RDP houses left out in the cold.
Sauls-August’s spokesman, Lwandile Sicwetsha, said the MEC would hold public hearings with residents to hear first hand how houses meant for the poor were often used as money-making schemes by those who abused the system, potentially costing government billions of rands in losses.
“We are hoping to complete this probe in this financial year ending March. The MEC will visit affected areas like Nelson Mandela Bay, East London, Mthatha and other parts of the province because this problem is everywhere,” Sicwetsha said.
“The MEC will be visiting affected areas like Motherwell, for example, where we will be asking questions of how people received the houses that do not belong to them and who gave them the houses.
“The municipalities will only give us their facilities and tell us of the problem areas. We cannot involve municipalities in the teams that will be carrying out the work because the problems started with them.
“As the department we do have the capacity to do the work.”
Alleged manipulated beneficiary lists by ward councillors in the Bay have been at the centre of many protests, with residents claiming councillors were changing approved lists to accommodate their supporters.
Claims of municipal housing officials and subcontractors allegedly selling RDP houses have also been made in areas like Schauderville, Chatty, Booysen Park, Motherwell and Missionvale, where most cases of housing allocation discrepancies have been reported.
In one instance in Schauderville’s Roos Street housing project, one of the illegal occupants admitted to not knowing how he got the house but has since June last year refused to move out.
Sicwetsha said that after completing the investigation, provincial human settlements would compile a report with recommendations on what measures should be in place to curb illegal housing occupation.
“The measures will kick in once we have completed the investigation.”
Before being gunned down in August last year, former Bay human settlement portfolio committee chairman Buyisile Mkavu was investigating how housing allocation had been bungled.
Sicwetsha said those found to have broken the law by selling the houses or manipulating beneficiary lists would face the legal consequences.
“This is costing the department a lot of money. We want to clean up the system.”
– Mkhululi Ndamase