Hundreds get to call a house their home
Property rights project hands 326 title deeds over to Kayamandi residents
● For almost 30 years, James Mzalwana lived in a house he built with his own hands but could never call home.
This week the 89-year-old was handed the title deed to his three-bedroom home in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, which he built in 1990.
Mzalwana was one of more than 300 residents in his community who received title deeds thanks to Khaya Lam (My Home). The project, supported by the Free Market Foundation (FMF), organises the conversion of homes built on council land into freehold title at no cost to the recipients.
Mzalwana, a former truck driver, said the lack of a title deed meant that he could not sell the house or guarantee that his family would inherit it.
“I’m now very old and I know that I don’t have much time left before I die. There was nothing that gave me sleepless nights more than knowing that my home could be taken from me at any time,” he said.
“I can now die in peace knowing that my grandchildren will have a home. It’s a pity that this comes six years after my wife died and I cannot celebrate this with her.”
The 326 title deeds handed over this week by Stellenbosch mayor Gesie van Deventer and billionaire Johann Rupert are among about 10,000 sponsored by Rupert’s NGO, the Reinet Foundation, to bring about transformation through home ownership for the poor.
Van Deventer said giving residents ownership of their homes helped to redress the injustices of apartheid, and gave them access to the economic benefits that came with owning property.
Department of human settlements spokesperson Xolani Xundu said there was a backlog of more than 800,000 in its title deed-restoration project, plus about
100,000 uncollected title deeds nationally.
The backlog was due to delays in land transfers between government departments and instances where occupants died without wills or nominating beneficiaries.
‘Taken from you’
Addressing recipients in Afrikaans, Rupert said: “I believe two things will change our society: quality education and title deeds. At our restaurant on the farm the son of the head waiter is now a nuclear physicist. We helped him with bursaries.
“I am not here as a benefactor and you are not a beneficiary. With the help of Khaya Lam I am merely returning the title deeds that were taken away from you.”
The deeds handover happened on the eve of Rupert’s infamous Power 98.7 interview, which sparked a backlash over his comments that black people did not save, preferring to spend their money on cars and clubbing. Power 98.7 boss Given Mkhari also corrected the businessman’s terminology after he referred to “blacks”.
At the deeds handover, Rupert told the Sunday Times he did not speak to the media. Asked to comment on how long it took to obtain a title deed, Rupert said: “Why do you ask me? It’s because you have voted for the ANC, which has proven to be very useless and corrupt.”
When his wife, Gaynor, warned him about his language, Rupert said: “Please don’t write that … but the ANC is as useless as the Nats.”
According to the FMF, about 900,000 homeowners without title deeds live in
The rest received subsidised houses before democracy with “permission to occupy” as dictated by the 1913 Natives Land Act, which banned property ownership by black South Africans.
Khaya Lam project manager Perry Feldman said some of those unable to get title deeds built their houses themselves through community projects on municipal land, even after 1994.
Even though the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act provided for the conversion of tenure to full ownership rights for occupants, the law was silent on the costs involved — resulting in many not getting ownership of their properties because they could not afford the cost of between R7,000 and R12,000.
Many were also in arrears with property rates and taxes, which made it impossible for municipalities to issue clearance certificates.
Feldman said Khaya Lam encouraged municipalities to waive the clearance certificate and negotiated huge discounts with conveyancers to make transfers affordable.
Xundu said in 2018/2019, the department of human settlements allocated R291.4m for the registration of 162,595 deeds. About R105.8m was allocated for township proclamations and R5.5m for disputes.
Carlize Knoesen, chief registrar of deeds, said her office was up to date with processing title deed applications, with most processed between five or seven days after lodging.
“We cannot speculate why deeds are not presented for registration,” she said.
Kayamandi homeowner Lauren Baba receives her title deed from Johann Rupert.