The constitutional rights of some of the most vulnerable and poor have been systematically violated, the Endumeni Civic Association says in papers filed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
The association, represented by the Durban Legal Resources Centre, is asking the court to compel the Endumeni municipality to process applications for RDP housing in a “fair and transparent” manner.
The case is significant because if the court grants the relief sought, it may change how municipalities deal with housing allocations in the future.
Teressa Magudulela, 57, is one of almost 300 people for whom the association is acting.
She has been living in a shack in Lindelani, near Dundee, for 15 years.
A domestic worker who earns around R1 500 a month, said she shares her tiny, rudimentary home with nine other people.
She says they have no privacy and the children have nowhere to study.
In 2013, her husband applied for RDP housing and was allocated a site, but their family was never able to move in because someone else was already living there.
Then in 2015, her husband died and the matter was never resolved.
The association says problems in Endumeni Municipality and its RDP housing system have manifested in the arbitrary application and manipulation of waiting lists and a corrupted allocation system. It is seeking a high court order:
* Declaring the municipality’s allocation of RDP housing unconstitutional and in contravention of various acts and setting this action aside.
* And directing the municipality to audit the RDP housing system and compile a report – and recommendations – for the court as well as to disclose the processes used to allocate RDP housing.
In his affidavit, the association’s chairperson, Muziwakhe Sithebe, said he and his colleagues were approached by a number of RDP subsidy housing applicants who live within the Endumeni area, who brought numerous complaints.
“Chief among these are the corrupt activities perpetuated by the (municipality) and its officials in dealing with the housing issue,” he said.
The association had discovered ward committees were renting RDP houses out to “desperate people” and that the municipality was apparently aware of the situation.
Information the municipality had provided to the association was fraught with inaccuracies and discrepancies, he said.
Apparently some RDP housing applicants had been incorrectly identified as having withdrawn their applications and individual sites appeared to have been allocated to more than one applicant.
The Legal Resources Centre said the association represented 294 RDP housing applicants.
“Those are the most needy and vulnerable residents of the municipality. The majority remain uninformed about their prospects of having decent shelter over their heads. They do not understand how certain applicants were preferred over them in the municipal housing lists”.
The association just wanted to see dignity restored to those affected, the centre said.
“If the situation is not resolved, the tensions between people who have been allocated houses by means of arbitrary processes, and the people who are waiting to be allocated houses, will escalate.”
No response from the Endumeni municipality had been received at the time of publishing.