Investec, the international banking and asset management specialist, could be mistaken for father Christmas this year as it announced it was distributing 3600 title deeds for houses in 15 townships around Gauteng. Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - Investec, the international banking and asset management specialist, could be mistaken for father Christmas this year as it announced it was distributing 3600 title deeds for houses in 15 townships around Gauteng.

Investec said yesterday the houses were valued at between R80000 and R100000 each, without disclosing the total value of the title deeds.

The recipients are people who are unable, due to financial stress, to repay their mortgages and needed the “homes the most”.

South Africans are battling a tough economic climate with continuous increases in daily living expenses.

Richard Wainwright, the chief executive of Investec Bank, in response to questions, said Investec was not setting a precedent for the business sector to provide houses, which the South African government was mandated to do.

“This is a once-off project as a result of the legacy deal.”

Wainwright explained how the title deeds came into Investec’s possession.

Roughly 10 years ago, Investec lent money to a client as part of a deal.

Part of the security for this debt took the form of certain rights to mortgage bonds for houses in various South African townships.

Wainwright said over a period of time it became clear that the debt would not be repaid.

Investec was left with the outstanding debt on the loan facility, and in the process obtained rights to 3600 title deeds.

He said it was a difficult decision and Investec and private banks sat together for a couple of months working through all the logistic and legal issues it had to deal with to make sure they could do this.

“Investec has, at its own cost, cancelled the mortgage bonds registered over the properties and will hand over the title deeds to the registered owners,” he said.

Wainwright said the firm took the opportunity to hand over the title deeds to the owners, so that they would have the benefit of full home ownership debt-free.

Furthermore, he said there would be no cost to the registered owners of the properties and the underlying debt would be waived by Investec.

The distribution of most of the 3600 title deeds took place between November and December 2019, with the intention of completing the handovers within the first quarter of 2020, Investec said.

So far 200 families had already received the title deeds, Wainwright said.

“These families now have a home and an asset that they can use in other life-changing transactions, such as starting a business or educating their children.”

He said the private sector had the power and the obligation to facilitate growth in a country such as South Africa.

“We have always held the belief at Investec that we live in society, not off it.

“We made the decision to hand over the title deeds because it was the right thing to do.”

Statistics South Africa’s general household survey for 2018 released earlier this year showed that housing projects were not reducing the percentage of households in informal dwellings.

It said that although the percentage of households that had received some kind of government subsidy to access housing had increased from 5.6percent in 2002 to 13.6percent by 2018, 13.1percent of households were still living in informal dwellings.

BUSINESS REPORT