Public Protector’s KZN visit met with loads of RDP housing concerns

 Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela’s visit to KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday was met by loads of RDP housing grievances, including an allegation that a local community member was allocated a toilet, fitted with a geyser, to live in instead of a house.
One of the issues raised by community members from Hambanathi township and areas surrounding Tongaat outside Durban was the role of Councillors in the allocation of houses.
There were serious concerns regarding the role of councillors including questions on who qualifies and gets a house. Complaints included the allocation of sites, with only one-roomed structures for shelter, where parents were living with children, some of whom were adults. Community members said this compromised their privacy.
Locals also raised concerns about sites that were allocated to people without subsidies to build houses and waiting lists that disappeared from time to time, putting people who applied earlier at a disadvantage. The allocation of incomplete houses and the role of engineers in certifying incomplete jobs were also raised by one participant after another.
The Public Protector was in the area as part of her two-day visit to the province. The visit forms part of her office’s nationwide Stakeholder Consultative Dialogue, which kicked-off in Pretoria two weeks ago.
The dialogue focuses on the need to work together to end maladministration and ensure responsive service delivery, with special focus on problems plaguing RDP housing and regulatory gaps regarding alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.
Problems surrounding RDP housing and regulatory gaps in the conversion of panel vans into taxis are the subject of two systemic investigations currently being conducted by the Public Protector. The Dialogue makes use of public hearings to gather information for purposes of these investigations.
On the issues of RDP service delivery, communities also complained about people who jumped the housing queue. They further complained about houses that were sold, sometimes to foreign nationals.
There were also worries about transparency issues with regard to processes leading to the allocation of houses, homes built on flood lines, the inadequacy of storm water drainages and a settlement built on a mountain. There were further complaints about title deed holders being homeless and that the rectification process, which is costly, also producing shoddy work.
On broader systemic delivery complaints, communities decried the quality of health care in the area, roads infrastructure, electricity provision and police conduct and service delivery. Complaints were also raised about unused rundown government buildings that have become havens for thugs and drug users while Community Based Organisations and churches have been requesting the municipality to let them use these.
Responding to the complaints, the Public Protector assured community members that she had heard their concerns, which she noted they confirmed the existence endemic RDP housing challenges.
The two community complaints she highlighted in her closing remarks involved school children. The one case involved a sewer pipe that goes through the school, allegedly bursting every other month, causing learners and teachers to walk on excrement. The other was a case of children dying for an education as they try to swim across a bridgeless river during heavy rains.
The Public Protector undertook to address complaints with relevant structures such as Ethekwini Metro; and Departments of Human Settlements, Social Development and Health.
The Public Protector will conclude her visit to the province on Wednesday when she meets with organised interest groups including government leaders, political parties and civic organisations at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.
For more information, contact:
Kgalalelo Masibi
Public Protector South Africa 
079 507 0399
012 366 7006
0800 11 20 40
Published Date: 
Tuesday, July 24, 2012