Hun­dreds get to call a house their home

Prop­erty rights project hands 326 ti­tle deeds over to Kaya­mandi res­i­dents

Sunday Times - - News Housing - By SIPOKAZI FOKAZI

● 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

RDP houses.

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.

Ar­rears

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.

Pic­ture: Esa Alexan­der

Kaya­mandi home­owner Lau­ren Baba re­ceives her ti­tle deed from Jo­hann Ru­pert.

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