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Where R124 M of your taxes went

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Where R124 M of your taxes went

by Esther Lewis
16 Apr 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

A PROJECT that was supposed to help alleviate the housing shortage in Cape Town, and which cost an initial R42,6million, is now sucking up a further R82million in extensive repairs to fix the inferior work.

In 1999, Cape Town Community Housing Company (CTCHC) - in which the City of Cape Town held a 50% stake - received a contract to build eight low-cost villages around the Peninsula. In total, 2 473 units were built. Development took place in Newfields Village, Manenberg, Heideveld, Mitchell's Plain and Philippi.

The contract was welcomed: the city's housing waiting list currently carries around 400 000 names. However, some houses were found to have structural defects.

The National Home Builders' Registration Council (NHBRC) audited the faulty houses in October 2006. The results were made public in March 2007.

CTCHC requested R31,5 million for repairs from Richard Dyantyi, MEC for Local Government and Housing. Dyantyi initially committed R36 million for the repairs - but the total was boosted to R45 million in September last year.

Weeks later, the city sold its 50% share in CTCHC to S Mka Construction for R21,2 million.

Councillor Dan Plato, the city's mayoral committee member for housing, cited the Municipal Financial Management Act as the reason for the city selling its shares. He said the city was not allowed to own shares in companies such as the CTCHC - but he added that there would still be a partnership between them and the city.

In October last year - after eight years of residents being at loggerheads with the city, province, and the CTCHC - the repair work finally started. But residents were still pushing for more funds, as they insisted more work needed to be done on their homes.

"We engaged the community through their representatives, and did a more-thorough reassessment, and picked up more issues not covered in the NHBRC findings," Bheki Mkhonyane, spokesperson for the CTCHC, told People's Post. Mkhonyane said additional faults were picked up in the foundations and windows.

CTCHC then submitted a new budget of R82 million to Dyantyi's office, which was approved on 12 February. When asked how such an amount could be justified, Vusi Tshose, Dyantyi's spokesperson, said, "The risk of unhealthy conditions makes it humane to effect these repairs. Should the repairs not be done, the original investment may eventually become fruitless".

During the eight-year period, some residents repaired their houses privately. Zainab Williams, who lives in Newfields Village, is one such person. She, like many others, had water pouring through her windows and seeping through her walls during winter. "I didn't have this house fixed for my luxury. It was necessary. I want to know if CTCHC is going to pay me back, or at least meet me halfway," Williams said.

Mkhonyane announced last week that "yes, the people will be fully reimbursed". He says that if the private repair work corresponds with the findings of the assessment reports of other houses in the area, residents will be eligible for a refund if they are not in arrears with their bond payments. If they owe the company money, the amount they've spent on repair work will be credited to their accounts.

Recently, CTCHC put out a tender for the R19 million contract to fix the windows. The money will come from the revised budget.

"We are hoping to award the tender to three or four different contractors, so we can empower more than one company," Mkhonyane said.

There are several residents still not happy with repair work being done on their homes, but Mkhonyane said their claims will not be entertained. "The R82 million is the final figure. There will be no more money after that".

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