SIU to look at fraud, corruption claims

MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela speaks to Phumla Dlokolo, the chairperson of the Our Pride Housing Project about people occupying houses meant for others.

THE SPECIAL Investigating Unit (SIU) will be asked to probe the low-cost Our Pride housing project in Eerste River following allegations of fraud and corruption in the allocation of houses, MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela has said. 

He was speaking during a random door-to-door inspection of houses yesterday to check if the people living in the houses were actually on the list held by the provincial human settlements department. 

“This is a preliminary investigation as we have received complaints that some people who were part of the original housing lists were removed and not allocated houses. 

“We have also heard that some people have sold their houses or are renting them out. We wanted to see for ourselves if this is correct.” 

Madikizela said what was disturbing was that some people on the beneficiaries list were born in the late 1980s, which meant they must have been 14 or 15 years old at the time. 

“People of that age do not qualify so how did they end up on the list? 

“My assumption is that some people were kicked out and replaced either by colluding officials and committee members here,” he said. 

Madikizela said the information would be handed to the SIU for investigation after which the department would take action. 

According to residents, about 56 houses out of the 940 built as part of the Our Pride project were not given to the rightful beneficiaries. 

The province’s investigation comes after the Gugulethu Concerned Backyarders group complained about corruption in the project. 

The backyard residents are the remnants of a 300-strong group called the Gugulethu RDP Housing Project, which formed in 2001. 

They appointed Phumla Dlokolo as their chairperson and approached the provincial housing department with their savings in 2006. 

Dlokolo had told them that R2 500 was required for a two-roomed house, and up to R5 000 for a larger one. 

Upon their submission to the department, then under MEC Richard Dyantyi, erven were obtained in Eerste River and an 821-unit housing project, named the Our Pride, was given the go-ahead. 

The first phase was completed at the end of last year. 

Backyarder Mhlayivayo Qabaka said that the Gugulethu Concerned Backyarders’ preliminary investigations had revealed that people living in the houses at the project came from Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Delft, and were also foreigners. 

The provincial housing list comprises 500 000 people, 386 000 of them in the City of Cape Town area. 

A 2008 survey found that in most regions, on average 68 percent of beneficiaries remained in their homes. 

In the Southern Cape – which included George, Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay – the figure was lower, with on average only 47 percent living in their government allocated houses. 

Several houses had been sold for a fraction of their value, and the beneficiaries had moved back into shacks. Other houses had been converted into shop. 

The department was creating more stringent beneficiary criteria. 

Meanwhile, a disciplinary hearing is under way for a City of Cape Town official linked to corruption involving housing waiting lists. 

Mayoral spokesman Solly Malatsi said the official was accused of gross dishonesty, negligence and improper conduct. 

Two other officials are to receive counselling for their negligence and a fourth person, who did not work for the city, was also implicated. 

Two cases of fraud and corruption were reported to the police.

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