12/07/2012 Public Protector Thuli Madonsela during a briefing in her office. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi


AN INVESTIGATION is to be launched by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into the conversion of (Quantum) panel vans into taxis.

Madonsela will also investigate complaints about the allocation and the quality of RDP houses.

Madonsela yesterday launched the 2012 Stakeholder Dialogue in Pretoria which incorporates public hearings on two systemic investigations of service delivery.

One of the two investigations relates to endemic complaints about the delivery of RDP housing. The second relates to regulatory challenges regarding alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.

The launch was attended by a number of delegates, including government officials, taxi operators and construction company owners.

Issues covered in the RDP investigation include waiting lists, procurement concerns, quality of homes, conveyance arrangements, sale of RDP homes and allegations of corruption.

Issues covered in connection with the conversion of panel vans into taxis include the regulatory framework and accountability for challenges, such as safety and passenger insurance.

Madonsela said people allocated RDP houses were “vulnerable members of society, who are economically marginalised”.

“We have received numerous complaints regarding the allocation of the RDP houses, the waiting list and the procurement process. We have also received complaints on the quality of the houses,” she said.

SA National Civic Organisation national spokesman Dumisane Mthalani said there were a number of challenges faced by people regarding the RDP houses.

These include poor workmanship, and the sale of houses by some beneficiaries and councillors.

Madonsela said they would, through the public hearings, listen to the people’s experiences and determine the way forward.

The director-general of the Department of Human Settlements, Thabane Zulu, said plans had been put in place by the department to tackle RDP problems. He said his department faced a number of challenges daily. These included the illegal allocation of houses, poor workmanship and the fact that some councillors allocated RDP houses.

“One of the problems is that the waiting list can be manipulated,” said Zulu.

With regard to the conversion of panel vans into taxis, Madonsela said her office didn’t regulate the motor industry. “There are allegations of regulatory failure, in that the vehicles were illegally converted into taxis.

“Those vehicles are dangerous,” said Madonsela.

She said in some instances, insurance companies declined to pay when passengers were involved in an accident because of non-compliance.

“Through the public hearings, we hope to join hands in order to eradicate this problem,” said Madonsela.

Former banker Hennie de Beer said the conversion of the panel vans into taxis was illegal.

“The manufacturer’s permission was not obtained when the vehicles were converted into taxis.

“This poses a danger to any commuter using the taxi,” said De Beer.

The president of the South African National Taxi Council, July Msiza, said the vehicles bought by their members underwent tests conducted by the SA Bureau of Standards and the various testing stations.

A number of public hearings have been lined up by Madonsela’s office, with the first being held at the Cala Town Hall and the Good News Centre, in the Eastern Cape, on Wednesday and Thursday.

Other hearings will be held in Pietermaritzburg and Verulam (KwaZulu-Natal) on July 24 and July 25; Bloemfontein and Kroonstad (Free State), on July 30 and August 1; Klerksdorp Town Hall and Mafikeng (North West) on August 2 and August 3.

Hearings will also be held at the De Aar Town Hall and Kimberley Provincial Legislature (Northern Cape); Lowveld Agricultural College and Matibiti Cultural Centre (Mpumalanga); Joburg City Hall and Mfatsane Hall, Evaton (Gauteng); and the City of Cape Town Council Chambers and the Diazville Community Hall.