Tenants protest for deeds

De Waal Drive flats tenants protested outside their homes demanding title deeds.

Tenants of the De Waal Drive flats say they have no security of tenure even though they have lived in the buildings for decades.

They protested outside their homes last Friday, October 18, demanding title deeds.

Currently, the tenants are only issued three-year leases and claim they are not helped with maintenance issues unless they sign these leases.

They say they have been waiting for title deeds for more than 27 years.

Tenant and committee member, Margalita Loubser, said they were offered the homes in 1993 by the Human Settlement department on a 99-year lease.

Ms Loubser said they had had a meeting with several tenants from other communities, including Ruyterwacht and Plumstead, who had the same problem.

Ms Loubser accused the provincial Department of Human Settlements of threatening tenants with the three-year-lease. “The three-year-lease is not any good for us because in three years’ time they can come and tell us they don’t have accommodation for us or offer to put us in Pelican Park which they previously tried in 2015,” she said.

In 2015, the Department of Human Settlements tried to hike rents to market-related values and stated that the tenants who could not afford to pay would be moved to Pelican Park.

The tenants refused and the then MEC for Human Settlements, Bonginkosi Madikizila reportedly engaged with residents on the matter.

Ms Loubser said a month before elections this year, they were asked to hand over the documentation they had not been given in 1993 for the purchase of their flats, which they provided but she said, the officials never got back to them and they had since been requesting meetings with them to no avail. She said they were even promised by the national government that they would be assisted but no one was getting back to them. She accused officials of trying to eliminate the fact that there was a 99-year lease.

Tenants said they were worried because six flats were now empty and claimed that government staff were moving in.

“This housing was for low-cost housing, not meant for government staff. Six of our neighbours are moving to Kuils River and are promised free houses there,” said one of the tenants, Om Marla.

She said they would not move because they wanted to be near hospitals and schools for their children.

Some tenants said they had come to live at the flats after being moved from District 6 in the 1960s.

Another tenant, Judas Pace, said she had been living in the flats for more than 60 years.

She said she was worried if she passed away, her children would have to move and the officials would let in the people they want in there.

“They are waiting for people to die and pensioners are the ones who are suffering the most,” she said.

Responding to the matter, the spokesperson for the Western Cape Human Settlements Department, Marcellino Martin, said: “Regrettably your query relates to a matter which is the subject of ongoing litigation before the High Court of South Africa (Western Cape Division). I am, therefore, not in a position to discuss this matter.”