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Need to clear Gauteng's dilapidated hostels urgent

South African soldiers provide support as policemen proceed with a search for drugs and weapons during a police raid at Madoda Hostel in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg on April 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA
South African soldiers provide support as policemen proceed with a search for drugs and weapons during a police raid at Madoda Hostel in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg on April 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

During my inspection visit to assess the status of construction of residential apartments at Dube, Meadowlands, Diepkloof and Mzimhlophe hostels to hear challenges faced by hostel residents, it was clear that the need for us to eradicate hostels was urgent.

Needled by the condition of some of the hostels, which include poor water and sanitation infrastructure, filthy environment and dilapidated walls of some of the rooms, I committed to continue constructing houses and new rent-free flats for scores of local hostel residents in Diepkloof.

Our department is currently building about 8492 residential apartments as part of a total 12202 apartments under construction in the city of Johannesburg to provide decent shelter for the people of the Gauteng City Region as promised in the Freedom Charter.

I heard that there are problems in Dube and Meadowlands hostels but I wanted to see what they were because once I see problems, I come up with solutions, like I am doing here. Now I can see that there is land available here, we can start building.

If I didn't visit the hostels, I wouldn't have known their condition. So it's very important for me to visit the places to see for myself.

Now I know what the solution is and we are ready to build new residential apartments there.

The apartments we are going to build in Diepkloof and other hostels will see us demolishing the old structures when residents have been moved to the new apartments to benefit people like hostel resident Ms Nompazamo Qotyiwe, who shares her hostel room, which is demarcated into 16-bedrooms and a common kitchen, with four families.

Qotyiwe told us she was happy about our decision to build new rent-free RDP flats for them because some of the residents cannot afford to pay rent.

In this regard we resolved that we will build RDP apartments so that those who can't afford to pay rent can also have decent homes.

A lot of residential apartment units were built in Dube but because people were not allocated units, they were vandalised. Now we need to fix them and allocate them to people.

We transferred the hostels to the City of Johannesburg. What we will do as the province is to assist them to rebuild the places and allocate them to beneficiaries.

Unknown vandals stripped off the roof, doors, windows already fixed in the 416 residential apartment units at the Dube hostel, which were unoccupied following a rent payment dispute between residents and government.

Government is investing billions of taxpayers' money into the construction of homes for South Africans who can't afford to buy or build their own homes.

It is therefore an insult to tax payers when some members of our society destroy buildings that could have housed a number of families.

We make a call to the people of Gauteng not to destroy properties because we are building these properties to be homes to many who can't build or buy their own homes.

We are aware that it is not the beneficiaries who destroy these properties but people from far who come with trucks to steal as nobody is protecting the places. We urge people to stop doing this as it is not constructive. It costs us a lot of money to guard the places and repair them.

Our plan is to speed up construction of residential apartments so that when each building is completed, families like that of Ms Qotyiwe can get a decent home.

Demolishing old and dilapidated hostels will give us more land to build more residential apartments for families, to completely move away from the hostels made for working man.

We are doing this to accommodate the working people in our province who can't afford their own homes. We are giving them the cushion they need to live a better life with heir families.

Mashatile is Gauteng's MEC for cooperative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements

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