Pretoria - Angry residents have taken over an RDP housing project that has been abandoned and left to rot for the past five years in Ga-Rankuwa Zone 10.
The project was started in 2012 and aimed to accommodate 10000 people in need of houses in the immediate community. However, construction was abandoned before the houses neared completion.
The residents, tired of seeing no progress, took matters into their own hands. They selected a committee which now heads the project.
Committee member Alex Modiselle said there were many people who needed houses in the community.
He said they could not just sit back and watch as the houses were being vandalised.
Modiselle said he was among those who would have benefited from the project, had it seen the light of day. He told the Pretoria News it was heartbreaking to see the houses falling apart.
Despite the houses being incomplete, thieves helped themselves to window and door frames after the project was abandoned
Bricks have also been stolen, leaving only the foundation of the houses. The walls on some of the houses have been partially demolished.
Modiselle said that when the project started, they were happy they could finally have houses of their own. “But little did they know their happiness would be cut short when contractors decided to leave the project incomplete.
“Nobody cares about this area; this place has been abandoned for many years, but it bothers us. Other residents have thrown a towel and built shacks on another land nearby, but we decided otherwise.
“Why should we occupy a land that is not developed when we have houses left to become dilapidated right in front of us? We have decided that we are going to occupy these houses instead,” he said.
Modiselle is among the 10000 people on the housing waiting list desperately in need of houses in the area.
Some of the units at the housing project in Ga-Rankuwa that has been abandoned. Picture: Jacques Naude/ANA
He said he did not have a house of his own and stayed in his mother’s four-roomed house with his wife and two children. “It is obvious that there is no space for my family and mother to stay in that house. So sitting back and watching people help themselves to our houses was not an option; hence we decided to stand together and claim what is rightfully ours,” he said.
Since the committee was elected, theft decreased because the members are looking after the project.
He said: “We are busy with allocating the houses so people could move in as soon as possible. However, they would have to make their own plans with regards to roofs, windows and doors.”
When asked about the names and cellphone numbers written on the walls, he said it was to show that the houses had already been allocated to a resident.
He further alleged that they used the same waiting list submitted to the City to allocate the houses.
There had, however, been confusion as to who the project belonged to. The province said it belonged to the City of Tshwane.
But City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said: “The project is co-funded by both the City, for infrastructure such as water, sanitation and roads, while the Department of Human Settlements at the provincial level is responsible for the residential units.
“The project was not completed because there were contractual disputes, for which legal processes are under way. In view of this, we cannot discuss the matter as it is before the court,” Mashigo said.
He said supply chain management processes are under way to appoint a new contractor to build 160 units in the current financial year.
Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile had previously admitted that there was a major backlog in housing allocation in the province and that corruption had played a part in this in the past.
Earlier this year, Mashatile said the department had built 33 000 houses in the past financial year, but there was still a backlog of 600 000 homes. In response, a budget of R5 billion had been allocated.However, due to the high demand, some communities may have to wait five years for housing.