Public Protector engages with North West communities

Matlosana community members in North West brought several allegations of fraud and corruption regarding the procurement of RDP houses to Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday.
A former Councillor, who was now a Member of the Mayoral Council, was alleged to have been involved in an RDP house-selling scheme, which community members claim resulted in double allocation of houses.
The Public Protector further heard that illiterate elderly people in the area were being made to sign letters, unknowingly, confirming their satisfaction with substandard houses allocated to them.
Community members told her they had been informed by municipal officials that government would not come back to fix the shoddily-built houses, some of which were on the brink of collapse, as the occupants had signed the “happy letters”.
Other people were allegedly being paid to say they got the houses when those who were supposed to be the rightful recipients refused to sign for properties they had not received. A complainant handed over a “Fivas Report” to the Public Protector, confirming fraud around “happy letters” and double allocations.
“Cracks on the walls of some of these houses are so big that, from inside, you can clearly see what is happening outside,” said one of more than 1 000 community members that attended the public hearing on the RDP housing programme and the illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis at the Klerksdorp City Hall.
The hearing was part of the Public Protector Stakeholder Consultative Dialogue, which puts a spotlight on the need to work together to end maladministration and ensure responsive service delivery, with a special focus on problems plaguing RDP housing and alleged regulatory gaps regarding alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.
Apart from houses that were structurally defective, locals also decried the conduct of inspectors and engineers that certified that projects were executed according to specifications when that was not the case and queue jumping, where illegitimate people invaded the houses.
Others complained of leaking roofs, flooded houses, houses that are acquired through bribery, houses rented out to foreign nationals for business purposes and generally incomplete projects that were regularly inspected by government leaders and parliamentarians without any action been taken to address the plight of communities.
Responding to the complaints, the Public Protector said her office was already investigating allegations that a former senior official from the Matlosana Local Municipality had been fired for attempting to call a politically-connected contractor to account. The contractor had allegedly built houses with defective foundations.
“This and all other matters raised here today are at this stage mere allegations. We will get the municipality’s side of story on all these issues and investigate further before making findings,” she said, before going to conduct an inspection-in-loco at some of the projects that are a subject of community complaints.
“What was unique to this province was an allegation that a contractor told desperate community members who complained about incomplete houses to ‘finish them themselves’ as government had ‘met them halfway’.”
The Dialogue proceeds to Mahikeng, where the Public Protector will engage with organised interest groups at the Provincial Legislature in on Friday. Next week, the Dialogue goes to the Northern Cape.
For more information, contact:
Kgalalelo Masibi
Public Protector South Africa 
079 507 0399
012 366 7006
Published Date: 
Thursday, August 2, 2012