Lotus River residents become homeowners

Sophia, 65, and her husband Kerneels Rex, 68, in front of their home.

A dream of homeownership has become reality for several families who, for decades, have paid rent to the City of Cape Town.

Through the rental sales programme qualifying tenants from Lotus River, Grassy Park, Gugulethu, Valhalla Park, Mitchell’s Plain, Heideveld, Nyanga and other areas in the city are in the process of claiming their homes.

The Southern Mail went along on a walkabout in Lotus River on Tuesday January 25 with Ward 67 councillor Gerry Gordon and Malusi Booi, the Mayco member for human settlements, to visit five overjoyed families who will soon call their homes their own.

Eighty-year-old Doris Marthinus was elated when she got the news because she’d been waiting her whole life to sign off on the papers that will make her a homeowner.

Doris Marthinus, 80, with Ward 67 councillor Gerry Gordon and Malusi Booi, Mayco member for human settlements.

Ms Marthinus had been living in the Rietbok Avenue house all her life and raised her seven children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and aims to raise her great-great-grandchildren there too.

“I thank the Lord for this chance, I am so happy this is happening and that I can leave a house for my family. I am almost a great-great-grandmother and they will be able to be raised in this house as well,” she said proudly.

Sophia, 65, and her husband Kerneels Rex, 68, had been living in their home since 1979 – 43 years ago. Mr Rex had moved in with his mother and sister when he was 34 years old. He outlived his mother and sister and raised his family in the Lotus River house and dreamed of owning it.

Ms Rex was relieved that the process had finally started: “We were always worried about the rent, being pensioners and having only the grant money for two grandchildren, so it was difficult for us. This is such a huge relief”.

Gadieja and Mustafa Japtha thanked officials.

Gadieja and Mustafa Japtha said they have been trying to take ownership of their home since 1996 but they didn’t have the finance to complete the process.

“Thanks to the municipality the process was made so much easier for us. We have been waiting so long and we can now finally obtain the house we and our children grew up in. I am so happy and we appreciate all the help,” Mr Japtha said.

Some of the struggles they had include a delayed response to fix rental issues, a limited say in the property’s management and not being able to upgrade or beautify their homes.

Other qualifying tenants are encouraged to do the same and own their Community Residential Units (CRU).

Malusi Booi, Mayco member for human settlements, with an elated Kerneels Rex.

About 7 500 council-owned rental properties in various areas of the metro are available to qualifying tenants for purchasing, said Mr Booi, who encouraged residents to apply.

The units include free-standing and semi-detached houses, terraced or row houses and maisonettes.

Unfortunately multi-storey blocks of flats are not available for sale at the moment – which can only happen through the implementation of a sectional title dispensation as set out in the Sectional Title Scheme Act (8 of 2011).

“Over the past nine years, the City has sold approximately 6 500 units out of the approximately 14 500 saleable units that were initially identified in 2013,” said Mr Booi.

Daniel Sigare from Oribi Avenue will own the house he had been renting for decades. With him is Malusi Booi, Mayco member for human settlements and Ward 67 councillor, Gerry Gordon.

Some of the long-term benefits of tenants becoming property owners include not being limited by a lease agreement between a tenant and a landlord and having the security of owning their own property. In addition, a house can be added to the owner’s estate so that it can be included in their wills to secure their homes for their loved ones in future.

Mr Booi added that tenants would not be liable for payment of their municipal account arrears: “As part of the City’s debt write-off initiative, tenants will be assisted with the writing off of rental and service arrears debt accrued up to June 2018.”

If tenants have any questions regarding the rental sales programme, they can go to their nearest housing office to find out more.

At the rental office you will need: a payslip not older than three months, an affidavit should tenants be unemployed, proof of self-employment and six months’ certified income and expenditure statements, a confirmation letter from the South African Social Security Agency if tenants receive a social grant, identity documents for the tenant and spouse if applicable and a marriage certificate/divorce certificate or death certificate of previous tenants.