Sakkiesdorp tenants become owners

Charles April, Karen Doralingo, John Lewin, Bernard Gorridon, Cynthia de Jong and Constance Phillie in Sakkiesdorp.

Sakkiesdorp residents have welcomed a process that will see them become owners of the homes they have been renting from the City for decades.

The City of Cape Town hosted a property ownership education workshop last week to engage and guide the process of transferring properties to the existing tenants in the area which is part of Lavender Hill.

Legal, long-term tenants will be able to buy 135 out of the 151 homes. For several years the Sakkiesdorp Association, under the leadership of Bernard Gorridon and Karen Doralingo, have been fiercely vocal about services for the residents of the small suburb.

Mr Gorridon, chairman for the association and a Sakkiesdorp resident for over 30 years, said he remembers a time when the houses didn’t have proper roofing and no ceiling.

In the past few months, however, R7.3 million was spent to upgrade the houses by replacing asbestos roofs and installing new ceilings.

“I am so glad that our homes have been renovated because many years ago the wind used to blow from the sand dunes straight into our homes and people’s roofs were leaking. Now our homes are livable and we have an opportunity to own the places we have been living in for the majority of our lives,” said Mr Gorridon.

Ms Doralingo said it’s been a tough seven years of asking for help from the City of Cape Town and asking for residents to be made homeowners.

She is ecstatic that their wish has finally come true.

“I am very happy for our people. Our fighting over the years for service and ownership was not in vain and at a point the community become despondent but now we are becoming homeowners and it is very exciting,” said Ms Doralingo.

Charles April, who has been living in Sakkiesdorp for 20 years, was grateful for the plans to become a homeowner. “We appreciated what the City has done and we appreciated everything the association has done for us, we just need more things to be done before ownership is transferred like window frames, doors and painting because some of the houses only have one door and window sills are dilapidated. Once we sign we have to fix everything out of our pocket. Many of us are pensioners so we cannot afford to do so,” said Mr April.

Cynthia de Jong said she has been paying rent for years.

“Now I can leave a heritage for my children and grandchildren,” said Ms De Jong.

Stuart Diamond, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said it has always been the City’s intention to empower tenants by facilitating the purchase of their homes.

“We also had to bear in mind that owning a home is not only about having a title deed in your possession. We are therefore taking our tenants through the basics of ownership such as having adequate insurance cover, maintenance and upkeep of the property, and making sure that the property is mentioned in a will,”said Mr Diamond.

The price of the houses will vary and is currently being determined, but the City’s policy is clear that costs to tenants must be kept to a minimum. Tenants may qualify for a government subsidy, a contribution towards payment of the selling price, or a write-off of rental and service arrears.

The amount of financial assistance for which tenants will qualify will be based on a household’s joint monthly income.

“Selling rental properties to long-standing tenants is a step in the right direction to build integrated communities and to create economic inclusion. It also gives our residents a sense of place, pride and belonging,” added Mr Diamond.

The name Sakkiesdorp comes from the method that was used to build the houses over 30 years ago.

The homes were constructed using the stack-sack method of construction, which was a new and experimental method at the time. Burlap sacks were filled by hand with a dry concrete mix of sand and cement and then compacted by being pounded on the ground. The sacks were then immersed briefly in a trough of water before being laid one course thick with vertical joints that were staggered to create a bond. Steel rods were then hammered vertically through the sacks.