'We've paid for our RDPs'
MORE than 900 RDP house beneficiaries were made to pay R200 each to the local royal authority before taking occupation.
The process of handing over the houses in Ga-Maphalle village in the Greater Letaba municipality outside Modjadjiskloof started in April last year.
During the official handing over beneficiaries were allegedly told to first pay R200 each to the local royal council before they could move into the new houses.
Residents, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised, confirmed having made the payment.
Local South African National Civic Organisation chairman Stone Letsoalo said they were concerned because most of the occupants were poor.
But local headman Steven Modika said they never demanded money for RDP houses. The money was for "royal levies".
"It was for royal services such as stamps, the land and other royal essentials. It has always been the norm for all my subjects to pay royal services in an effort to enable the royal council to function properly," Modika said.
Local councillor Forster Makhubele said it was untrue that beneficiaries were forced to pay money before they were given keys to their houses.
"Some of them where given keys at the (handing over) function, while others are currently living in the same houses despite the fact that they did not pay. This is a fabricated move aimed at discrediting the ANC-led government and nothing else," he fumed.
The chairman for the house of traditional leaders in Limpopo, Sefegole Makgeru, said it was not standard practice for traditional leaders to demand payment from RDPs beneficiaries.
He said they would investigate.
Department of housing spokeswoman Tseng Diale said yesterday: "If there is proof that they were made to pay such money, they must provide proof to the department and we will make sure the law takes its course against the headman."
Diale said RDPs were meant for the poor and were free. She said selling them or renting them out was "a criminal offence tantamount to theft".