Residents of eNdumeni in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, who have been waiting for nearly 20 years to receive RDP houses are hopeful that justice will be done and Endumeni Municipality will be compelled to provide them with houses.
Residents of eNdumeni in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, who have been waiting for nearly 20 years to receive RDP houses are hopeful that justice will be done and Endumeni Municipality will be compelled to provide them with houses. Under the banner of eNdumeni Civic Association, the group of residents have taken the Local Municipality and the MEC for Human Settlements (KZN) to court, challenging the arbitrary and possibly corrupt application and manipulation of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing waiting lists, and the housing allocation systems and policies that are unclear.
Endumeni Civic Association chairperson, Mzwakhe Sithebe said the legal battle was born out of principle and the need to see justice being done. “When the democratically elected government made a commitment to build houses for poor people it was out of an understanding of the importance for people to have adequate shelter and that is a fundamental human right. So when one comes across a situation where RDP houses are taken over by people who were not on the list, or are rented to people it is a violation of the human right,” said Sithebe. The activist is not a stranger to the public domain, having served as a Member of the Provincial Legislature between 2004 and 2009.
The residents have also received support from the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) who said the matter underlines how public representatives are taking people for granted. “This action that we are supporting is important not to just you as residents of eNdumeni, but it has wider implications and speaks to the importance of people claiming back their power,” said KZNCC’s Mdu Zakwe. He said there was a need for education of communities on their participation in governance matters so that they do not fall prey to unscrupulous politicians.
Human Settlements spokesperson, Mbulelo Baloyi said that when the department became aware of allegations of fraud and corruption in the allocation of the housing units to beneficiaries, they appointed a forensic investigation company to probe their veracity. “Initially the forensic investigation company did not get the desired co-operation from the Endumeni Municipality but has been working on the information it had collated and is halfway to completion and submitting the report to the Department,” said Baloyi.
Mayor Sboniso Richard Mbatha said he welcomed the move to probe corruption and had encouraged aggrieved residents to go to court. “It is unjust for such houses to be sold or rented to undeserving people. If it is found that there are public representatives who are either part of this, or the previous council, that were involved in what amounts to criminal activity then legal steps should be taken against them,” said Mbatha. He added that since assuming office last year they had discovered a slew of corrupt activities, but would not divulge their nature.
Residents spoke to this reporter about the hardships they have endured over the years while waiting for houses, and helplessly watched as others received them.
Buthelezi is hopeful that her quest to have a house will now be realised. Having applied for an RDP house since the dawn of democracy, Buthelezi knows how patience can be taken for granted, and even be betrayed. “I made an application when the first window for free housing was made available and was very excited at the prospect of being a home owner,” said Buthelezi. That excitement which had even reached her grandchildren turned to shock when Buthelezi went to check the progress on her house only to find that there were occupants in the house that she had been waiting years for. “When I saw curtains and a light from what was supposed to be my house my heart sank because I had waited so long. What was even more shocking was being told by the authorities from the municipality that there was no record of my application and that was the time at which I realised that something was just not adding up. I am really hoping that justice will be done in the process,” said Buthelezi.
With Christmas approaching life for mother of three children, Queen Thompson is getting more difficult. A furniture company that she works for has just announced that she will be retrenched. “That means that there will be no income for me and getting this house is important for future security,” said Thompson.
At 46 Gada Thusi should be looking forward to raising his children but that dream is now thwarted by his current state. He was one of the first applicants for an RDP house more than 20 years ago, but when the house was allocated he was told that his name did not appear on the beneficiary’s list. Currently he lives in a one-roomed house with six children at a school where he works as a labourer. He has not been paid for five months and battles to make ends meet, especially for his three-yeareold twins who have a healthy appetite. “Was it not for the fact that I am provided shelter I would have left this job ages ago, but there is no such choice for me. Even though working conditions are bad, one simply has to cope with it, but one really hopes that the court rules in our favour so that we can live in a proper house like an ordinary family,” said Thusi.