Mdantsane councillor allegedly sold RDP houses

Once abandoned, this RDP house in Unit P, Mdantsane has been renovated by the occupants. Photo Chris Gilili

Four years on, after the project to build houses started at Unit P township in Mdantsane, residents still label the RDP housing development as a “project of corruption”.

Mdantsane, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Four years on, after the project to build houses started at Unit P township in Mdantsane, residents still label the RDP housing development as a “project of corruption”.

The allegations come after a DA parliamentary delegation visited the Unit P housing sites, and heard stories of how the houses are allegedly sold by the ANC ward councillor, Zameka Kodwa-Gajula.

When Elitsha visited the area, we discovered 32 unfinished houses and also learnt that 164 houses in the Phase 2 area were not allocated to the residents who have occupied them.

Xolile Sitsili who resides in Unit P admitted that he has been occupying one of the abandoned houses without it being allocated to him since August 2016.

“I occupied this house because it was vandalised and ignored. The houses were completed even in 2014, but our municipality who is responsible for allocating them to people has done nothing about it,” said Sitsili.

“These houses were meant for people who stayed in sharing houses in Mdantsane and also those who came from informal settlements. The building of Unit P started way back with the building of Phase 1 and from there rumours of Buffalo City Municipality officials selling houses started to surface.”

According to the residents, the houses were sold for R15,000 to any willing buyer. Some of these houses were being used for rental purposes and whoever claimed to be the owner would take the money.

Sitsili is adamant that he will not leave the house which he found in an appalling condition and had it renovated.

“This house was a dumping place, windows were broken and nyaope boys used it to smoke and commit crimes. I decided to take it because no one cared and I renovated it and cleaned dirty and greasy walls,” he explained.

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“Many houses here were fully build with a functional bathroom, but those got vandalised and broken. As community members we decided on our own to occupy all of these vandalised houses.”

“I have met the rightful owner of this house before. I told him that I will not leave this house. Unless the municipality makes a suitable housing solution for me. I have stayed here for more than a year and even the South African constitution protects me.”

Vangqa Mgcina who moved into Unit P in January this year, said that he is the one who brought their situation the media’s attention.

“Apart from houses being sold, even the electricity wiring here is not up to standard. I was told that I will complete the wiring by myself, whereas in other RDP projects like Ilinge, close to Mount Ruth, you get your house fully tubed with electrical wires,” said Vangqa.

“At some stage someone came here with a document from Human Settlements and also from the municipality and the documents cited me as the owner but I refused to go. I have a blue card holder for years and I know this house belongs to me,” explained Vangqa.

As a traditional healer, Vangqa says he sometimes has clients who come from as far as Port Elizabeth, but sometimes they find it difficult to reach his house because the roads are very bad.

Samnkelo Ngwenya of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality said the residents were not telling the truth.

“We as the municipality treat this as a very serious allegation and we don’t know of any houses being sold in Unit P. As the municipality we cannot comment any further, we will conduct our own investigation and issue a statement,” said Ngwenya who is the communications officer for the municipality.

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DA member of the Bhisho legislature, Solly Malatsi, who also sits in the Human Settlement portfolio committee, said that the party will support the fight against this housing corruption.

“It is illegal to sell government RDP houses and we are against corrupt officials that deny people their opportunity to housing,” he said.

The ward councillor, Zameka Kodwa-Gajula who is alleged to be selling the houses refused to speak to Elitsha.

43-year-old Zoleka Mandeni said she lives in fear as she lives close to an unfinished RDP house, in an area surrounded by trees.

“Last year a young girl was raped in this very house, and criminals use it to smoke and store stolen things on a daily basis. We do not even know who our councillor is here, so we have no one to address some of our issues to,” said Mandeni

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About Chris Gilili 19 Articles
Chris Gilili, a 23 year old freelance journalist based in East London. Graduated from Walter Sisulu University media studies school in 2015. Had a stint with Independent Media, in sports writing. Passionate about news and the media.