Housing allocation criticised

The allocation of subsidised housing in Kuils River has been sharply criticised by a local civic association.The Kuils River Civic Association’s (KRCA) housing committee chairman Mathys Markgraaf accused the provincial Department of Human Settlements of allowing “corrupt activities” in the way residents get their RDP and council houses. Names were being duplicated on the waiting list while some managed to score more than one house, he claimed.

The issue was causing squabbles among residents, and he cited the case of two sisters, Merinchia Johnson and Shireen Ross, fighting over a house in Grove Street, Sarepta.

Their parents, who have since died, had lived in the house, which is owned by the the provincial Department of Human Settlements. Mr Markgraaf said Ms Ross had sold her RDP house in Kalkfontein, but later managed to get a lease for a subsidised house in Sarepta.

Documents from the Deeds Office confirmed the sale of the RDP house for R14 000.

Shortly after her parents’ death, Ms Ross had transferred their house into her name and then kicked out her sister, who had been living there for a year, claimed Mr Markgraaf.

Kuils River Magistrate’s Court documents show that Ms Johnson sought a court order against her sister, but the court said the siblings first needed to sort out the issue of ownership with the provincial Department of Human Settlements.

Ms Johnson said this was unfair on residents who had been on the waiting list for a very long time. She said she had been on the list for more than 10 years.

Muneera Allie, spokeswoman for the Department of Human Settlements, confirmed that the department was leasing the property to Ms Johnson’s sister.

She said that while Ms Ross had received a government house at first, this did not prevent her from benefiting from a rental housing opportunity.

Ms Allie said there were strict controls, including the National Housing Subsidy System database, which verify beneficiaries, to prevent people getting two houses.

Mr Markgraaf fears the issue will set a precedent and that more people will sell their RDP houses so they can afford larger subsidised rental units, such as those in Grove Street, in Sarepta.
Ms Ross said she would limit her comment because the house belonged to neither her nor her sister. However, she accused her sister and the committee of harassing her.

“They’ve been investigating me. My lawyer is busy with them.”

She said the department had also called her in, but she would not elaborate when asked when she was called in and what was discussed.