Deputy minister of human settlements, Zou Kota-Fredericks.. PICTURE: JONATHAN JONES;

Human Settlements Deputy Minister, Zou Kota-Fredericks has commended Premier Fishing SA (Pty) Limited (Premier Fishing) and Lafarge Mining South Africa for their commitment and hard work which ensured that ten destitute families, amongst them, the elderly, the disabled, women and child-headed households in White City, Saldanha Bay Municipality now have a roof over their heads.

At the handover on 15 May, Deputy Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks said, “As government we’re here today to support this positive initiative and thank all those who have contributed in the construction of these houses. This gesture of goodwill from Premier Fishing, Lafarge and their partners indicate that the call by government for partnerships between the public and private sector in the provision of houses is now bearing fruit.”

The land on which the houses are built was donated by Premier Fishing and serviced by the Municipality – this project created a total of eighty eight jobs for members of the community.

Premier Fishing’s CEO Samir Saban added, “I am delighted that we are in the position to hand over the keys to these new houses to the Saldanha Bay community members. We have come a long way with this project and are proud to experience the joy that it brings to the deserving new home owners.”

Premier Fishing, a subsidiary of AEEI and a Sekunjalo Group Company is the largest black owned and managed fishing company in South Africa and supports numerous community initiatives to facilitate the upliftment of the community regarding social and economic challenges in areas in which its employees reside.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Lafarge General Manager for Aggregates, Noriko Solomon wished the new homeowners good health and happiness for many years in their surroundings.

She added that, “While the challenge to house South Africa’s people is a daunting one, the stakeholders in Saldanha Bay can be proud of the positive milestone reached. More than anything, this occasion celebrates the importance of working together – partnerships where each one contributes what it is best able to provide”.

“This project started years ago and I am proud to say that we worked hard on this project to build on our CSI and give back to the community who has, over the years, supported Premier Fishing and the fishing sector,” said Khalid Abdulla, Group CEO of AEEI of which Premier Fishing is a subsidiary.

Olga Platjies, a past employee of Premier Fishing and recipient of her new house said, “We are very grateful to everyone who made this possible, but especially Premier Fishing - no longer will we have water leaks and drainage problems. We walked a long road with Premier Fishing’s Peter Phango who went out of his way to ensure that all our documentation was in order. Our hearts are filled with gratitude and joy and we say thanks once again for making our dream a reality.”

A few years ago Premier Fishing also undertook a successful share pay-out valued at a few million rands, to employees and members of the community through an open and transparent consultative process with various stakeholders including the FAWU representative Union. This is part of Premier Fishing/AEEI/Sekunjalo’s value creation for all stakeholders, especially the communities that we operate in and come from.

Chantal Williams, an orphan and the youngest beneficiary in the project said, “Today I am standing in front of my miracle. It was very hard for us to make a living here, but this shows that dreams do come true.” She continued to say that they are grateful for the houses they received and thanked all the stakeholders, especially Premier Fishing, Lafarge and the Municipality for working hard and not giving up on making their dream come true when times were hard.

She said they are looking forward to living happily ever after in their new homes and this year’s winter will not be same because they, like other people will also be staying in decent, quality houses built by the government and all the stakeholders.

Abdulla concludes, “We wish to thank all our partners, the Municipality and Lafarge, for forging ahead through many challenges and jointly completing the housing project on time. Without the collaboration and good working relationships we have with the Saldanha Bay and other Municipalities, the community and Lafarge, the project would not have been a success with providing much needed homes within the community.