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Johannesburg - Burning tyres and large, pink stones blockaded Union Road outside the Kliptown Golf Course community as residents protested against high levies and poor living conditions.
With a list of seven demands, more than 100 tenants lined the streets from midnight and remained outside until City of Joburg member of the mayoral committee for housing Dan Bovu came and scheduled a meeting for on Wednesday with the protesters, the council and Joshco, a private company commissioned by the city to operate the complex
Until their demands were met or “fruitful negotiations” began, protest organisers said they would not allow any Joshco employees or contractors into the complex.
If the issue was not resolved after 14 days, the tenants would refuse to pay rent or levies.
The protest caps a struggle for service delivery and standardised rent that has lasted for years for some in the complex, according to residents. They complain of flooding pavements, broken pipes that cause leaking ceilings, and cracks on the interior and exterior walls of their homes.
The levies that they pay in addition to rent, are not standardised.
While some tenants said they paid about R1 900 each month, others said they paid as little as R300.
Protest organiser Bassie Theletsane stood on a wooden table inside the complex, informing his neighbours of the meeting on Wednesday with Bovu and Joshco and leading the group in cheers.
Besides standardised levies and better maintenance, tenants are calling for more convenience stores, stronger security, recreation areas, and the removal of Joshco’s housing supervisor for the golf course complex.
They want the company to hire tenants to conduct security, maintenance and mail services.
Different areas of the complex have various problems.
Some parking lots are not paved, and when it rains, it gets too muddy for cars to pass. Lighting is poor and faulty.
Many houses have large cracks in the doors and walls that let rain in.
Weeds clog the drains and a lack of wheelchair access makes it hard for disabled relatives to visit.
Joshco confirmed that representatives would attend Wednesday’s meeting.
The company asked the Gauteng Housing Department for R5 million to tackle building defects, but would not negotiate on standardised levies, said Cheryl Holmes, the executive manager for Joshco’s housing management department.
Tenants pay capital and levies for the low-rent housing in Kliptown Golf Course, based on their income bracket.
“It’s impossible to standardise because then you are unable to accommodate the poorer people in the project,” Holmes said.
“Everybody knew that.”
Tenants occupied units on a rent-to-buy basis and no one would pay more than R95 000 for their home, Holmes said.
The houses were valued at R350 000, so tenants stood to make a profit if they wanted to sell their homes, she added.
However, she said building convenience stores was against the regulations of the complex, which was meant to provide affordable housing.
Joshco would work diligently to service all the defects, Holmes said.
Still, residents said it was unfair for them to pay different levies when their houses were in such poor condition.
They had complained for years about defects in their houses and said Joshco was slow to respond.
One tenant paid R18 000 to fix her home when she became tired of waiting for the company.
Another asked Joshco for bars on her second-floor window to prevent robbers climbing on the perimeter wall to access her home.
She had to install them herself after her house was burgled twice in one month.
Bovu said he first heard about the complaints on Sunday.
He said he would return to the golf course complex after Wednesday’s meeting.