Cape Town – The Cape Town Deeds Office should move into the 21st century and place the deeds registration process in digital mode, according to the Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF).
Responding to a query about the repeated closure of the office over Covid-19 infections and the impact it was having on the property and real estate industry in the province, WCPDF chairperson Deon van Zyl said: “The accepted international move has been to place the deeds registration process on virtual platforms underpinned by block-chain technology.
“There is no reason why South Africa should not use the opportunity presented by the Covid-19 crisis to now do the same."
James Wilson, chief executive for the Amdec Group, added: “The practical implementation of the deeds office procedures is not well considered and makes it difficult for all conveyancers to perform their tasks in order to complete property transactions.
“It is a totally unacceptable situation. Illogical decisions, long delays and unnecessary rejections are the order of the day. This is impeding conveyancers’ ability to get properties registered and transferred, which ultimately means that sellers and purchasers are left inconvenienced, out of pocket, and even – at times – without a home.”
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said he had written to Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza requesting urgent intervention in the matter.
Maynier said: “While it is critical to implement the necessary health and safety measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace, the deeds office does not appear to be implementing the measures in alignment with the National Department of Health or Department of Employment and Labour guidelines with regard to workplace safety. Not every instance of a positive case, or a confirmed contact of a positive case, requires the entire office to close.
“When the deeds office reopened in May 2020 following the lockdown, there was already a considerable backlog of deeds to be dealt with.
“According to the founding affidavit by the chairperson of the Cape Town Attorneys Association (CTAA) in its court application to compel the deeds office to take measures to address the backlog, of the almost 12 000 matters lodged from May 12 to June 3, only 17% had been registered by June 4 when the affidavit was made.”