Human Settlements Committee Calls for Prosecution of Criminals Selling RDP Houses
These people are extorting the poor who are forced to approach loan sharks to get money in order to access housing
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, January 27, 2022/ -- The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements has called on the Department of Human Settlements to work with law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute criminals who sell RDP houses. The committee is continuing with its week-long oversight visit to Gauteng to assess the implementation of targets and was informed of the persistent problem of third parties selling RDP houses to the poor.
“We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this perennial problem of illegality, where criminal elements exploit the desperation caused by the longing for security of tenure among South Africans. These people are extorting the poor who are forced to approach loan sharks to get money in order to access housing. These criminals must be brought to book through collaboration between the South African Police Service (SAPS), the department and communities at large,” said Ms Machwene Semenya, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee heard that people continue to sell RDP houses at the Savanna City Mega Project in Midvaal Local Municipality. The committee called for the community to actively participate in fighting such illegality by sharing information with the police and the Department of Human Settlements. “The community must be aware that a house bought illegally would not be beneficial in the long term, as the buyer will not receive a title deed to an illegally purchased house. Buying of these houses will lead to financial loss,” Ms Semenya emphasised.
As a result, the committee asked the municipality and the department, together with the SAPS, to implement measures aimed at arresting the perpetrator/s and report to the committee regularly on progress and plans to stop this illegality.
Meanwhile, the committee has called for strategies to eliminate exposing title deed beneficiaries to risk. While the committee is cognisant that the Housing Act prohibits the selling of an RDP house within eight years of occupation, it is also aware that many families are forced, mainly due to economic hardships, to sell their houses or put them up as surety for loans before the lapse of the statutory timeframes. This threatens the security of tenure of many. “There is an urgent need to look at solutions to the challenge of selling RDP houses, because it perpetuates the inability by many to own their own houses,” Ms Semenya emphasised.
Despite these challenges, the committee appreciates the quality workmanship in the development of these properties, especially for the poor. “The projects that we have seen so far are of good quality and set the standard of what should be followed throughout the country. We want quality houses and not substandard houses we have become accustomed to. To ensure this, effective monitoring should be done from the development of the foundation to completion,” Ms Semenya said.
Meanwhile, the committee remains concerned by challenges in beneficiary lists in Gauteng. Many people who applied and qualified between 1996 and 1998 have not received their houses. The committee reiterated its call for transparency regarding the list of beneficiaries. Furthermore, the committee has called for the exclusion of politicians at local level on issues of beneficiary lists. Lastly, monitoring of officials involved in the administration of beneficiary lists must be enhanced to ensure that any corrupt activity is dealt with swiftly.