Ineptitude robs poor of housing

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

An ongoing debacle over mismanagement, in-fighting, dried up funds and alleged harassment has prevented Mpumalanga low-income families from getting houses.

The Presidency Project approved the building of 5000 houses in eMalahleni (formerly Witbank) for people earning less than R3500 a month, which gave many people hope of having an affordable roof over their heads.

But only 920 of the 5000 planned houses were built . The houses were handed over to the eMalahleni housing institution in 2004 .

Residents claim that poor service forced disgruntled owners to refuse to pay rent. This led to the eviction of Uthingo Park residents.

"The provincial department of housing was aware of the management and administration problems but refused to hand over the project to stakeholders," said residents spokesman Dudu Mahlangu.

She said an additional 211 houses were partially built but never completed or rented out.

Four years later the houses lie in ruins and are used for illicit activities by druglords, delinquent pupils and prostitutes.

"We have been trying for more than a year to discuss the issue with the board of trustees but in vain," Mahlangu said.

She said they also tried, without success, to get help from the national Department of Housing.

"The board appears not to want to resolve any of these issues," she said. "It seems to have rented out some of the houses to companies and have now distanced itself from the houses."

Simphiwe Kunene of the provincial department of housing said they had met with the municipality and resolved the matter.

"We have agreed to terminate the contract of the developer."