On Freedom Day: Cape Town women’s land reform project achieves title deeds

On Freedom Day, 27 April 2019, a generation after the fall of Apartheid, a further 66 residents of Vukuzenzele (which means stand up and do it for yourself) in Cape Town received title deeds to properties they have occupied for decades. During all those years they were denied the right to own their homes.

They walked into the event as tenants and walked out as owners. This is not only a historic occasion but a unique and symbolic event for Khaya Lam: almost all new owners are women, and, also a Khaya Lam first, they are each contributing R800 towards the costs of the title deeds.

Khaya Lam delivers real economic self-empowerment and transformation to occupiers deprived of dignity and property rights under Apartheid. In partnership with local government it converts Apartheid-style government owned rental properties into full ownership.

Some of the titles were sponsored by Swedish entrepreneurs, Carl Fredrik Sammeli and Hans Otterling*, and others separately, by South African businessman and philanthropist, Christo Wiese**. The People’s Environmental Planning (PEP) an NGO, played a decisive role by bringing the properties to the point where they could be registered.

The two sponsors, Sammeli and Wiese, personally handed over the deeds they had sponsored, and spoke about their respective reasons for supporting Khaya Lam.

PEP’s Director, Shawn Cuff, and community committee member, Amanda Mpama, explained their involvement, and the history of Vukuzenzele.

Sammeli said, “It is a great privilege to be part of an initiative to restore the dignity of South Africans long deprived of home ownership under apartheid. The long-term solution to land reform in South Africa is in title deeds – proof of ownership – which delivers real economic opportunities”. He spoke of “falling in love” with South Africa in 2012, and now making it his home. “Entrepreneurs believe in doing things for themselves and don’t wait for someone else to build our future. This is why PEP and Khaya Lam are doing so well. The people of Vukuzenzele want the legal ownership of their own homes and are prepared to contribute financially to make it happen,” said Sammeli.

Wiese spoke about the legacy that those receiving titles would be leaving for their children, as well as his long association with Khaya Lam. He was proud, he said, to be part of a project where the residents were contributing to costs. Wiese has called on the business community to support the FMF’s Khaya Lam Land Reform Project as a wonderful opportunity for the private sector to partner with local government to bring about real transformation. He said, “I don’t know of a more worthwhile project in South Africa. What could be more important than this?”

Because of a complex set of irregularities during the construction of Vukuzenzele 20 years ago, none of the houses in the settlement had full ownership. Removing obstacles to unambiguous ownership by black South Africans throughout South Africa is complex, time consuming, and expensive. In Vukuzenzele, PEP works with the FMF to break overcome the legal and bureaucratic nightmare confronting disempowered black people.

FMF Director, Temba Nolutshungu, said “Black land deprivation was probably the single worst element of apartheid. Ever since apartheid ended, little has changed. In South Africa today, there are still between 5 million and 7 million black households living as wards or tenants of the state without ownership of homes they have occupied for generations. There has been no systematic conversion of “council owned” and “traditional community” properties to full unrestricted ownership. The prospects for economic upliftment throughout South Africa, through Khaya Lam, are exciting and immense.”

For over 40 years the FMF has championed the cause of converting countless forms of apartheid title and tenancy to full, unambiguous ownership. The FMF is creating a blue print to be replicated by others throughout the country.

About Khaya Lam

The FMF’s pilot project, which began in the Free State’s Ngwathe, has seen 2975 deeds transferred to unrestricted fully tradable title unlocking R357 million of “dead capital”; a further 3060 deeds in process and 21000 deeds pledged. This simple act is transforming the lives of black families, many of whom have lived as tenants or with restricted ownership for generations. It gives access to previously locked dead capital and provides hundreds of very poor people their first step towards true economic freedom and economic prosperity. Many farmers in the Free State and elsewhere have committed to sponsoring title deeds as a means to reduce historical conflict between famers and workers living as tenants on their land.

About PEP: People’s Environmental Planning NGO

PEP provides socio-technical assistance to low-income communities in South Africa seeking to transform slum habitats into sustainable human settlements.

*Swedish Businessman Carl Fredrick Sammeli and Khaya Lam

Swedish Sammeli is an entrepreneur and investor. He visited South Africa in 2012 and for the past 7 years, has made his home here with his wife Marie and two of his four children. He has been involved in some of the more complex titling issues in Vukuzenzela (69 titles) and Imizamo Yethu (42 titles), in Hout Bay. He has introduced fellow Swedish business people including today’s sponsor Hans Otterling. 

**South African Businessman, Christo Wiese and Khaya Lam

Christo Wiese has been involved with Khaya Lam since the beginning and has sponsored 300 titles to date: 100 in Ngwathe, Free State; 100 in Nomzamo, Somerset West and 100 in Vukuzenzela, Cape Town. 

About the FMF

The FMF is an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation, created in 1975 by pro-free market business and civil society national bodies to work for a non-racial, free and prosperous South Africa. As a policy organisation it promotes sound economic policies and the principles of good law. As a think tank it seeks and puts forward solutions to some of the country’s most pressing problems: unemployment, poverty, growth, education, health care, electricity supply, and more. The FMF was instrumental in the post-apartheid negotiations and directly influenced the Constitutional Commission to include the property rights clause: a critical cornerstone of economic freedom.

The FMF has a wealth of information in papers, articles and opinion pieces available on the website which can influence the public debate and present alternative policies to the people of South Africa. Please look at our website www.freemarketfoundation.com.  Also see Facebook and Twitter.

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