DESTRUCTION: Windows of unoccupied RDP houses in Kliptown Extension 11, Soweto, have been removed and doors, taps and baths have been stolen.
Kliptown - Kliptown residents are up in arms over the vandalism and destruction of about 50 unoccupied low-cost houses that should have been allocated to them last December, blaming the delay on corruption.

The houses in Kliptown Extension 11 were completed in 2016 and should have been allocated before last Christmas to residents living in shacks.

But according to Sipho Maseko, who registered to be placed and has been on the housing list since 2008, corruption is the reason why there has been a delay in the allocation.

“It is sad to see these houses being vandalised while we live in shacks. I registered for a house in 2008. I was approved but even today I am still waiting to get my house. I don’t really know what is going on because people who registered after me got their houses.

“This is sad because now there are available houses and they were damaged while we are still living in shacks.

"But I believe this is all corruption. They (Gauteng Department of Human Settlements) want to sell these houses. I know because there were people claiming they come from the Housing Department and demanded our registration documents. Now they live in the houses because they used those documents to be in the houses,” Maseko alleged.

A 60-year-old woman echoed Maseko’s sentiments, saying the RDP houses were empty and damaged while she was suffering in a shack.

“I stay alone in this shack and it leaks when it rains. I always have to wake up at night and place a bucket to catch the water.

"I am surprised that even today I’m still waiting for my house since I registered in 1996 and it was approved. And people who registered after me are now living in their houses. Right now I wish they could move me into the houses. I am tired of suffering in the shack,” she said.

The Sunday Independent found some of the houses badly damaged. Windows were broken and doors and window frames had been removed. Baths and taps had been stolen. There were clothes and blankets in other shacks, a sign that vagrants had taken occupation.

Greater Kliptown Leadership Forum chairperson George Mohlala believes the houses were being vandalised by nyaope addicts, adding that complaints to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements haven’t yielded results.

Mohlala bemoaned the fact that there are people who are still languishing in shacks even though they were allocated the houses on paper.

“Human Settlements promised to allocate them houses last December 16, but we don’t know what the cause of the delay is now. I told them about the vandalism of these houses and that people need to move but they keep blaming each other.

“This is sad because these houses became homes for criminals and drug addicts. The situation promotes crime. A lot is still going to happen that side. We must blame the government for this mess.

"This is also happening in Extension 6; the houses are complete but remain empty.”

When approached for comment, Gauteng Human Settlements spokesperson Luzuko Pongoma said the department was aware of the vandalised houses.

He said this had been a “perpetual problem” since the beginning of the project and that some suspects were caught and assaulted by the community.

Pongoma invited members of the public to report cases of corruption to law enforcement agencies so that they can be investigated and those involved in illegal acts can be prosecuted.

However, he said the houses will be repaired only after the City of Johannesburg has appointed a quantity surveyor and a contractor. When asked why some people were moved into some of the damaged houses, Pongoma said that was done to prevent further vandalism in agreement with the community.

Asked why some of the houses on the project were still incomplete, Pongoma said: “There are various reasons but mainly because of contractors' poor performance.”

Sunday Independent