After being on the housing waiting list for 40 years, Jeanetta Titus, 76, cried tears of joy when she was given the keys to her new home in Highbury, Kuils River.
At a handover ceremony on Friday September 13, the community of Kuils River witnessed 10 elderly and disabled residents becoming first-time homeowners of the Highbury Phase 3 project on the corner of Nooiensfontein Road and Stellenbosch Arterial.
The R54 million project, steered by the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, started in 2014 and developer Power Development was instructed to build 264 Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses, 100 military-veteran houses and 100 Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) houses for people earning R3 500 and over.
Power Development spokesman, Rayno Olyn, said the 40m2 two-bedroom houses had a bathroom, open-plan kitchen and lounge with backdoor leading to the yard.
But new owners are encouraged to do the final touch-ups such as painting or tiling.
He said 214 backyarders from the Kalkfontein and Sarepta areas were beneficiaries of the BNG houses while 50 others are allocated from surrounding areas such as Wesbank.
The project, he said, had been delayed by protests after the community had learnt that some of the beneficiaries had been chosen from outside Kuils River (“Residents feel sidelined by housing project,” Northern News, January 23).
“The protests caused delays, but we reached consensus with the community, and they are happy to move their people in,” he said.
Mr Olyn said more work was to be done at the site, including the development of parks and the planting of trees along the pavements.
Human Settlements MEC, Tertius Simmers, said he had handed many houses over to people in the past, but had been humbled to hand over the homes in Highbury because residents had waited nearly 40 years for them.
“The looks on these people’s faces after fighting for these houses are priceless,” he said.
Mr Simmers said he would be at the site for the next two weeks, handing over the rest of the houses to other beneficiaries.
Ms Titus lived in a Kalkfontein backyard for 25 years without hot water and a toilet.
“I still can’t believe that this is my house. I have never been this happy. I will be living here with my daughter and two grandchildren,” she said.
Noor Kalam, 54, said for 18 years he had rented a room in Highbury and his three daughters had lived in different places because they had been unable to live with him.
“I am happy that I got this house. Now my daughters can live with me.”
Highbury Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association chairman, Edmund Duplooy, welcomed the handover and said residents had fought tirelessly to be beneficiaries of the project.
Kuils River Concerned Citizens chairman, Johannes Pula, said the protests had not been in vain because “his people” were finally in their homes.