Tokyo to clean up RDP mess

government's plan to seize the assets of developers who built shoddy RDP houses and then have them sent to jail marks a departure from its soft approach over the past four years.

The Department of Human Settlements has been demolishing and rebuilding defective houses but it is still to report any successful action against such developers. Between 40000 and 50000 houses need demolishing and rebuilding over the next few years.

Most of the houses were built in the first years of democracy, prior to the introduction of the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) in 1997.

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said yesterday that R1,3billion was needed to fix defective houses.

The cost of the houses has escalated. Old houses cost between R12000 and R15000 to build and were 16m² and 20m². The new four-roomed houses will now cost between R55000 and R58000 and would be double the original size.

By July, more than R500million had been spent on this national project. Then, the government said at least R190million would be spent on the project a year.

"It's a national shame. This is money down the drain. It is money that should have been spent on new houses," Sexwale said yesterday during a visit to the Alphendale community in East London, where 339 poorly constructed houses have to be rebuilt.

He laid the blame for the poor service delivery on corruption by construction companies and government officials.

"Wrong things are being done in the name of government," Sexwale said.

"These are people we have entrusted with government jobs and government contracts, they are supposed to serve the people, but they are thieves. If you are corrupt, get out.

"We want to know who built these houses. We need to ask serious questions and bring people to book. We are going to fix the problem - but we are also going to fix the people who caused the problem.

"Where we are given knowledge and information you can trust us, we will act."

Sexwale's spokesperson Chris Vick said last night that while in the past the focus was on fixing the houses, now the attention was being turned on to those who built the houses and those who awarded them contracts.

Vick said once the contractors were identified, civil and criminal charges would be pressed. Those found guilty of wrongdoing would have their assets seized.