Anger over housing delay

Trevor Douglas Desane calms the crowd after some disruptions.

Tensions were high at a meeting about Sakkiesdorp housing where residents thought they would be getting the title deeds to their homes.

A meeting was called on Saturday November 16 with residents, the Sakkiesdorp Civic Association and Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen to address their concerns about the process of owning the homes that some of them have been living in for more than 30 years (“Sakkiesdorp tenants become owner”, Southern Mail, November 1 2017).

Sakkiesdorp residents have been vocal about their plight to own the houses behind Lavender Hill they have been renting for more than 30 years.

At the meeting, which was held at the Seawinds civic centre, residents were under the impression that the gathering was one of the final steps in the process to get their title deeds but were left disappointed and disgruntled when this was not so.

Bernard Gorridon, chairperson for the Sakkiesdorp Civic Association, said he was hoping the meeting would bring about answers on when the transfer of ownership will be completed, many thinking it will be concluded in January.

“We thought we were going to meet with housing officials to finalise the process because this has been coming on for a long time and we have been promised that we will have our houses but we are still waiting. People are tired and people are growing impatient because promises were made that we would have the title deeds to our houses.”

Janet Gie said the process was not moving fast enough. “People who are supposed to be homeowners have died and their children are on the streets, looking for a place to live. This would not have happened if the houses that they lived in and paid rent for for so many years were transferred already,” she said

Mr Gorridon, who has also been a resident of Sakkiesdorp for over 30 years, said: “It’s true some people died before the transfer could take place and the City put those people’s children out of the houses. We have been patient, but we need answers.”

Trevor Douglas Desane, who has been living in Sakkiesdorp for 32 years, said owning his home was one of his biggest dreams and the City of Cape Town’s delays were costing people their homes.

“We came to the meeting to sign papers and to finish the transfer but instead we’re told that it will only be looked into in the next financial year.

“What if I die tomorrow and then my children have to fight to continue living in the house? I need this process to be completed so that house can be an asset to my children and their children,” said Mr Desane.

Ms Petersen said there was a misunderstanding and residents assumed the transfer of ownership was going to start in January 2020.

She explained that the City’s financial year started in July and not January as some assumed. “People don’t understand the processes of council. We cannot do the transfer of ownership in one day,” said Ms Petersen.

The City started upgrading the houses in 2014, which included replacing asbestos roofs, plumbing and other cosmetic improvements.

“The legislation to the national housing regulatory bureau changed and we needed to comply. It stated that the transfer of ownership cannot happen if it’s not compliant with the national housing bureau standards.

“We needed to do the upgrades and that delayed the process of transfer of ownership and there were regular engagements with residents to inform them,” said Ms Petersen.

She added that a budget was not allocated to do the transfer of ownership: “I am motioning council to expedite the process of transfer of tenancy for the 151 homes in Sakkiesdorp,” she said.

“I am equally as excited and frustrated with the residents but I am looking forward to the day when we finally get to hand over their title deeds.”

Mr Desane and Mr Gorridon supported the tabling of the motion and will be signing a petition to fast-track the process.

“We are going to stand together and support the motion but we need answers and feedback. If we don’t get answers we will protest in the streets of Cape Town because we have waited long enough and we cannot go more years paying rent to the City,” said Mr Desane.

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