Owns RDP home but lives in shack

Woman hit with R20 000 coun­cil bill de­nied ac­cess to prop­erty

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - @khayakoko88 KHAYA KOKO

AN EKURHU­LENI shack dweller has been left shocked to learn of a R20 000 mu­nic­i­pal rates bill which ac­cu­mu­lated over 20 years for a prop­erty she never lived on or knew she owned.

A dis­tressed Siphiwe Shongwe only dis­cov­ered in 2010 that she owned an RDP house in Tsakane Ex­ten­sion 11 af­ter be­ing re­fused credit owing to the “mys­tery” debt.

Upon fur­ther en­quiries at a mu­nic­i­pal of­fice in Brak­pan, Shongwe was told the house was reg­is­tered in her name, and given a bill of R16 659.

A doc­u­ment from the Jo­han­nes­burg Regis­trar of Deeds con­firmed she had owned the prop­erty since Oc­to­ber 1997.

The 51-year-old lives in a shack at the Lin­de­lani in­for­mal set­tle­ment. Her two sons also have shacks there.

Shongwe said she went with her brother to the house she owned to speak to the oc­cu­pants in 2010.

“When we asked them how they man­aged to get this house be­cause I’m the right­ful owner, I was told they bought the house from the coun­cil­lor, Mor­ris Chauke,” she said.

Chauke is cur­rently the chair­per­son of the coun­cil’s ethics and in­tegrity com­mit­tee.

Ekurhu­leni spokesper­son Themba Gadebe also con­firmed that Shongwe owned a house in Tsakane, adding that she was li­able for the prop­erty’s debt.

“The out­stand­ing bal­ance is R24 410 and R21 153 of that amount was handed over to debt col­lec­tors. Pay­ments re­ceived were in­suf­fi­cient and ir­reg­u­lar. In the past seven years, only R6 900 was re­ceived,” Gadebe said.

He couldn’t say who had made the pay­ments over the last seven years, and would not an­swer ques­tions as to whether the city en­sured oc­cu­pants of a prop­erty were the right­ful own­ers of it.

On the al­le­ga­tions against Chauke, Gadebe said: “The al­le­ga­tions concerning Chauke are not true. There is a long his­tory to this mat­ter dat­ing as far back as 1995, which led to the coun­cil­lor be­ing ar­rested on three oc­ca­sions and on all three the case against him was with­drawn.

“Shongwe also pur­sued a civil case against him with the as­sis­tance of the Le­gal Aid Board and the ap­pli­ca­tion was dis­missed on July 17, 2012.”

But Shongwe dis­puted the claims she had pur­sued a civil case against Chauke, say­ing she had ap­proached Le­gal Aid for as­sis­tance to get an evic­tion or­der so she could get her house.

An evic­tion no­tice dated Au­gust 2010, seen by The Star, was served on the oc­cu­pants the same year, to no avail.

“When we ar­rived at the house, the oc­cu­pants re­fused to sign the or­der. I re­turned with the po­lice as per in­struc­tion of Le­gal Aid. When I went back to Le­gal Aid to find out what had hap­pened, I was in­formed my case num­ber had some­how dis­ap­peared.”

Shongwe said her health had suf­fered greatly. She is a chronic di­a­betic and had to live with her fam­ily in a shack she does not even own. “When I die due to my chronic di­a­betes, I will leave my chil­dren with no place to live. That pains me.”

DES­PER­ATE: De­spite own­ing an RDP home, Siphiwe Shongwe has been forced to live in a shack in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment of Lin­de­lani. PIC­TURE: KHAYA KOKO

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