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Thursday Jun 20, 2013

Meadowlands housing complex still stands empty - five years on

When a sprawling townhouse complex kept rising before the eyes of Meadowlands Extension 11 residents, their excitement mounted by the day.

The locals would admire from their shacks, their tiny houses and their backrooms, the braai stands and benches on the lawns across their yards, the new units with their balconies, the fire hydrants on the walls, laundry lines on the gardens and space for children to play.

However, five years since construction started, the buildings are standing empty. None of the residents have moved in and no one knows who is supposed to occupy the units. The initial hope and excitement are gone and have been replaced by confusion and anger.

Nkosiyabantu Ziqubu, 58, said they were told that they would be moved into the townhouse complex while the government renovated their tiny houses and laid down pipes for the sewerage system for the toilets they don't have.

Muntukatshelwa Zondo, 57, and Sadaam Dlamini , 38, said the units were built for them.

Two elderly women had a different story. They "knew" that their grown-up children who still live at home were to be the beneficiaries.

"This complex was completed about four years ago, but each and every day a construction vehicles is here. We hear that the pipes were not laid properly for sewerage.

"For the past three years they have been fixing windows and repairing the roof. Maybe the person who got the tender is the one who is busy breaking the windows so that he can keep getting money by replacing them," 25-year-old Thabiso Ntuli said.

The situation is the same in the Orlando Women's Hostel. Newly constructed houses have been standing empty since they were completed in 2011.

Some of the windows are broken and dust has gathered inside. The taps outside the houses have been removed so that they don't end up being sold at scrapyards.

Some of the women at the hostel said they "knew" that they would take occupation, but they were now being told that they would have to rent the houses for R750 a month.

A resident who has been staying at the hostel for the past 22 years said the hostel dwellers had been told that initially they would be presented with a rent-to-buy option. But now everything had changed.

"It is now 'rent-to-rent'. We really do not know what is going on now. The last meeting we had was in March last year," the 66-year-old said.

The government has spent more than R131 million on the projects.

Gauteng Department of Health spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa said the units were not intended to be the equivalent of RDP houses.

"The completed houses are only rental family units and will be rented out for R750 to approved qualifying beneficiaries," he said.

A few years ago, MEC Ntombi Mekgwe had said in her response to the DA's Khume Ramulifho that beneficiaries would move into the units in 2011.

Motlhaolwa said things took longer than expected because the site where the new units were built had no services such as sewers, bulk water and electricity.

"The project is fully completed and the beneficiaries will be moving in from next month onwards. A property management company has already been identified to assist with property management services.

"One of their responsibility will be to ensure that all residents in these new units are paying their monthly rentals as per the lease agreement they will each sign with the property management company," he said.

The Star


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