Public Protector gives officials a month to quantify complaints and devise plan to resolve Tongaat housing problems
A team of officials from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements and Ethekwini Municipality has been given until the end of August 2014 to verify and put together a solution plan in response to housing problems plaguing the Hambanathi community in Tongaat.
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela visited the area on Wednesday, accompanied by officials from the municipality and the department, including Deputy Director-General, Ms Greta Appelgren-Narkadien. This followed her brief meeting with MEC Davi Pillay earlier in the day, regarding the issues at hand.
"After thirty days, the province will have to give us a long term plan that details how they will solve these problems for good," the Public Protector told community members, who converged at a local community hall.
Her visit to the area followed calls from community leaders, requesting her intervention in alleged cruel and illegal demolition of people's houses and related evictions. This includes a case involving a pregnant woman who was allegedly moved to an inhabitable structure that did not have basic services such as electricity.
The houses were allegedly being demolished because members of the community were erecting their shelters on a piece of land that the municipality has earmarked for development.
In addition to demolitions and evictions, community members also complained about illegal sale of houses, shoddily built houses, problems with houses that needed to be rectified, rectification lists, quality of the building material, bribery and people that have been left out of government database for housing.
The Public Protector said one of the urgent interventions would be to ensure that pregnant woman gets a proper house. Her office would also assign a team currently conducting a systemic investigation into the RDP housing programme nationally, to verify the allegations of corruption involving the sale of spaces on the housing and house-rectification lists, houses that are being sold and evictions.
The engagement on Wednesday also presented an opportunity for the Public Protector to provide a progress report on the efforts her office has been making since her interaction with residents in 2012, where some of the housing problems in the area were first brought to her attention.
She said her provincial office and the team conducting a systemic investigation have been interacting with the provincial government and community in the last two years as part of efforts to address the systemic deficiencies that have given rise the problems dogging the government efforts to provide housing to the community.
The Public Protector expressed gratitude to MEC Pillay for agreeing to meet with her, bringing officials to help address the issues raised. She said this was in line with her office's approach of a partnership with government to end maladministration.
For more information, contact:
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7006
079 507 0399