Shack dweller vows not to pay ‘mys­tery’ debt

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

“I WILL rather die than pay for ser­vices to a home I have never lived in, let alone knew I owned.”

This was the vow made by Siphiwe Shongwe, an Ekurhuleni shack dweller sad­dled with a mu­nic­i­pal rates bill of more than R20 000, ac­cu­mu­lated over 20 years for a prop­erty she never lived in or knew she owned.

On Fri­day, The Star re­ported on Shongwe’s plight of dis­cov­er­ing only in 2010 that she owned an RDP house in Tsakane Ex­ten­sion 11 af­ter be­ing re­fused credit ow­ing to the “mys­tery” debt.

The Brak­pan mu­nic­i­pal­ity con­firmed that she had owned a house since Oc­to­ber 1997, where her debt had bal­looned to R16 659 in 2010.

Ekurhuleni spokesper­son Themba Gadebe said Shongwe’s “debt” cur­rently stands at over R20 000, adding that she was li­able for it, as the Tsakane house was reg­is­tered in her name.

“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 did not, how­ever, pro­vide de­tails as to who had been mak­ing these pay­ments over the past seven years.

Gadebe also did not an­swer ques­tions as to whether the coun­cil en­sured that the oc­cu­pants of a prop­erty were the right­ful own­ers, who should be pay­ing ser­vices.

Asked whether she was the one who had been pay­ing the coun­cil since find­ing out she owned a house, Shongwe as­serted that she had not paid “a sin­gle red cent” to Ekurhuleni, say­ing she would rather die than do so.

“They (Ekurhuleni) can even ar­rest me if they want to. How can the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ex­pect me to pay for ser­vices I have never used? Why doesn’t the mu­nic­i­pal­ity go to the cur­rent oc­cu­pants of my house and ask them to pay for the ser­vices?” she asked.

“Where I stay right now there is no run­ning wa­ter or a flush­ing toi­let. I don’t even have elec­tric­ity. But I’m ex­pected to pay for peo­ple who en­joy lux­u­ries that I don’t have. That is un­fair.”

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

Shongwe said she moved to Lin­de­lani in 2012 shortly af­ter her mother’s death and had to fetch her chil­dren from Phon­golo, KwaZu­luNatal, where they had been liv­ing with her mother while Shongwe was rent­ing a back room in Wattville, Ekurhuleni.

“I couldn’t stay with them in the back room. A rel­a­tive was kind enough to of­fer her a shack and prop­erty. I had to bor­row money from my em­ployer so I could build the two shacks for my sons. That is the only place I can get a loan be­cause I have been black­listed ev­ery­where else,” she said.

Phillip de Lange, leader of the of­fi­cial DA op­po­si­tion in coun­cil, said he had raised Shongwe’s strug­gle in the coun­cil, in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions that Mor­ris Chauke had “sold” Shongwe’s house to its cur­rent oc­cu­pants.

Chauke is cur­rently the chair­per­son of the ethics and in­tegrity com­mit­tee.

Gadebe de­scribed the al­le­ga­tions against Chauke as an on­go­ing smear cam­paign against him.

It’s al­leged a coun­cil­lor ‘sold’ her house to its cur­rent oc­cu­pants


‘IT’S NOT MY DEBT’: Siphiwe Shongwe at her home in Ekurhuleni’s Lin­de­lani in­for­mal set­tle­ment. Shongwe lives at this prop­erty even though she legally owns a house.

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