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Monday May 04, 2015

Title deed plan gets Wiese's help

Christo Wiese, who led a $1 billion (R12bn) takeover last month, says he was also focused on helping millions of South Africans make a more modest purchase: The R1 850 they need to secure the title to the land on which they live.

Wiese, South Africa's fourth-richest man with a personal fortune of R84bn according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, says that more than two decades after the country's first democratic elections millions of South Africa's citizens have no legal right to their dwellings.

"The terrible irony is that after 21 years of postapartheid rule not a heck of a lot has been done in this respect," the 73-year-old said last week.

"I'm hoping that we can get to the objective of having every house being entitled. Be it a modest shack or a little home in a township."

South Africa has about a million households where the residents don't own the dwelling, according to Statistics South Africa. That's a relic of apartheid where many black people were deprived of land tenure and has made it difficult for the country's poorest to pass on their property to their children or to raise money to improve their houses or start businesses.

Wiese is a sponsor of the Free Market Foundation, which is working with First National Bank (FNB) to give people land tenure, and gave more than 100 title deeds to residents of Ngwathe, a municipality in the Free State.

The foundation's Khaya Lam land reform project seeks to give freehold and title deeds for all municipal-owned rental homes from the apartheid-era to the registered occupants. The phrase translates roughly as "My House" in Zulu and Xhosa.

Title deeds will enable South Africans to access finance to develop their properties or move into larger homes, according to Simphiwe Madikizela, a managing executive for housing finance for FNB.

"They can now be able to leverage the property, to be able to trade with the property, to be able to access funds," Wiese said by phone last week.

"They can sell this house now because they've got title deed, it's got value, they can buy something bigger or they can remain where they are."

FNB, which is the retail banking unit of FirstRand, had funded the transfer of around 300 title deeds so far, Madikizela said.

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