In a first for his department, Infrastructure MEC Tertius Simmers has evicted a Kuils River woman from her state-subsidised house for allegedly selling it illegally.
The woman, who had owned the property in the Highbury Park Housing Project for just three years, was issued with an eviction notice on Wednesday June 15, giving her 14 days to clear out, according to the MEC’s spokesman, Ntobeko Mbingeleli.
She had moved out on Thursday June 30, said Mr Mbingeleli.
The Infrastructure Department says she broke the law because beneficiaries of Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses (also known as RDP houses) are not allowed to sell them within eight years of receiving. them.
Mr Simmers said the woman had breached a binding contract, which she, the Department of Human Settlements and the contractor had entered into in February 2020. The Department of Human Settlements now falls under the Department of Infrastructure, following a provincial cabinet reshuffle earlier this year.
Mr Simmers said the agreement “expressly prohibits the sale of the property within the eight-year period of receiving it, without first offering the property to the department”.
Mr Mbingeleli would not give specific information about the woman other than to say that she was between 35 and 45.
Asked whether there were attempts to find her alternative accommodation, Mr Mbingeleli said: “No. Anyone that has benefited from any government housing assistance is not eligible to benefit again.”
He said the department did not plan to charge her at this stage.
“There are several incidents that have been reported; however, this is the first where we’ve had to issue a notice to evict. The department is in possession of a paper trail that outlines the role of individuals who conspired in this unlawful sale,” Mr Mbingeleli said.
Mr Simmers said the now-evicted woman had advertised the property on social media, and despite the department’s efforts to discourage her from selling the house, she had sold it for R450 000, taking a R110 000 deposit upfront.
“It is worth noting that, the incumbent occupiers who illegally purchased the house will need to institute a civil lawsuit against the beneficiaries,” Mr Simmers said.
The department had picked up on the illegal sale after months of probing an alleged syndicate operating in the Kuils River community, he said, adding that the department was now looking into whether the deal was linked to it.
Mr Simmers said he had received numerous reports from concerned residents about illegal sales of BNG units in Kuils River. He said he had visited the area in March and found “some of the houses were vacated within days of beneficiaries taking occupancy thereof”.
He had vowed to take remedial steps to take back illegally sold houses, with the advice of lawyers, he said.
The “unscrupulous behaviour” could not be overlooked as there were 568 000 people registered on the provincial housing demand database, he said.
“We are hoping that through this action, other beneficiaries will be discouraged from partaking in similar unlawful transactions. Thus, I call on our citizens to not fall prey to these get-rich-quick schemes at the detriment of our government infrastructure and communities.”
Kuils River Civic Association chairman Isaac Jenecke said: “It is regrettable as others on the list would like a house and keep it. Housing and poverty is a massive challenge in the country.”