Illegal Occupation of Houses at Our Pride Housing Project
Statement by Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela
The Department of Human Settlements recognises that there is a need for housing opportunities and to meet this need, provides housing solutions for citizens of different income levels. Due to the high demand and limited resources, these opportunities must be provided in a way that is fair for everyone, and the Department will ensure that due process is followed, and that the people who most deserve houses, receive them.
Phase 1 of the provincial Our Pride housing project in Eerste Rivier consists of 600 BNG (Breaking New Ground) (or fully subsidised, free) houses, and 221 Gap Market Houses. On Saturday, 20 July 2013, at around 15:00, about 300 persons arrived in an organised protest and illegally broke into and entered around 111 of the empty Gap units. All the illegal occupants were eventually removed with the support of SAPS, the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement, and the on-site private security company, and when I visited the site on Sunday morning, 21 July, the houses had been secured. There has been a lot of damage to doors, windows, frames, and other parts of the houses, and early estimates of the damages amount to about R500 000.
The damaged houses at Our Pride are for people earning between R3 500 and R15 000 per month. The houses are partially subsidised in terms of the FLISP (Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme), and the applicant will need to pay the rest of the cost through a home loan obtainable through a banking institution. If the applicant does not qualify for a home loan from the bank, either because of a poor credit record or over-commitments or other factors, then the house will be given to another person who qualifies in terms of the criteria.
The BNG houses at Our Pride are all occupied, while many of the GAP houses are still vacant. The GAP houses are sold on the open market, yet some are still vacant because the response has been very slow from those who qualify for a home loan. Unfortunately, however, if someone does not qualify for a home loan from the bank, then the state cannot provide the house completely for free, as the cost of the house has already been lowered through offering a subsidy.
The claim by the protestors that an erf number entitles them to a house must be disputed, because it’s not true. Erf numbers are attached to an applicant in the preliminary process of application for a house. It does not mean that they are yet entitled to a house. It is also not true that because erf numbers are used in the application process, and if their application process is unsuccessful, that they will not qualify for a house in the future if their circumstances change.
The Department will continue to protect houses against illegal invasions, and ensure that the people who rightfully deserve houses, receive them. With Gap housing, there is the expectation that people will take some responsibility for payment of their house. The houses will continue to be reserved for the Gap Market, and not simply be made available for free to those who try and jump the waiting list and unfairly take houses meant for others. Strong action will be taken against those who revert to illegal actions in forcing the provision of housing. I support the action taken by SAPS in enforcing the rule of the law.