_: Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela on Tuesday, called on municipalities to be transparent on the lists and the allocation of Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses.
She said while speaking during her office’s stakeholder consultation dialogue and public hearing on RDP houses and the alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis in Nelspruit.
The Public Protector said there was a need for people who have applied for houses to know if whether they will get houses or not and if so why. She said municipalities had to ensure that the programme was well rolled out despite challenges.
“Let’s go back to communities with open plans and lists so that they get to know who got a house and if whether they will get it or not,” she said.
At the hearings which are also aimed at getting information to assist in the systemic investigation the Public Protector is currently conducting on RDP houses, community members in the province told the Public Protector that some contractors asked people to pay upfront a deposit of over R2 000 to qualify for an RDP house. She heard that those who could not afford to pay the amount therefore couldn’t apply for houses since they had to attach a deposit slip in their application.
Others asked her to investigate an alleged irregularity into the provincial human settlement department where a R331 million RDP project tender was issued without following proper processes.
Other complaints related to the selling of houses to people who later converted them into business premises. One woman complained that these houses were built closer to schools but have now been converted into shebeens.
Communities used the hearing to ask municipalities in the province to explain the processes and criteria that should be followed when applying for RDP houses. This would assist in avoiding confusion which exists. One woman representing a civic organisation told a gathering that they in conjunction with the local municipality went on a programme register names of people in the different areas who needed proper houses. She said this created confusion as people thought that by registering their names they had applied for houses only to find that the list was an RDP needs assessment for the municipality.
The Public Protector also heard from people living with disability who alleged that they were not getting houses despite their need. One complainant alleged that in the Witbank area, close to forty people have applied but only seven got the houses.
On the issues of the alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis, one complainant said she had bought a car which happened to be converted. She was taken off the road after she was told that the car was illegally converted and had to pay over R28 000 to have it corrected. Upon its return, seats had been reduced from 13 to 11.
Taxi operators complained to the Public Protector that they buy cars and are not in any way aware that they were illegally converted. They said they did not know who to point finger at in this regard as they have tried to engage the Department of Transport and their effort were fruitless.
On the service delivery front, the Public Protector was alerted about a community in the Thaba Chweu municipality where an estimated 60 people shared a single water tap. The complainant went on to allege that a serious lack of access to water and electricity, sanitation and other key service delivery issues in the Thaba Chweu municipality
Speaking at the meeting, the Mpumalanga MEC for Human Settlement Mr Masango said his department will avail itself and cooperate with the Public Protector in investigating all allegations brought to her attention.