The Guard

The Truth On Board

New house owners elated

By Emily Setona

CLARENS – Beneficiaries could not conceal their excitement when they received their donation agreements during a historical event that saw 40 houses being officially handed over to families of Kgubetswana who had been renting these houses for years.

The Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) Senzo Mchunu along with a team from Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) did a door-to-door visit to a few of the houses that form part of the 40 houses in the township of Kgubetswana in Clarens. These houses were officially handed over to families who have been occupying and renting them for at least 20 years.

The event took place at Kgubetswana stadium on May 21 where the recipients were given a donation agreement and a symbolic trophy making this historic event a done deal, just before the finalisation of title deeds which will be handed out to them at a later stage.

“It is not every day that you come across such a unique situation in your life while working as a public servant. TCTA had a duty to do, while working on the tunnel for the transfer of water from Lesotho down to South Africa to the Vaal integrated water system, they had to accommodate workers in Clarens while working on the system. The project was completed but the houses that were built remained. The thinking was to lease these houses out because they were in good condition. The idea was to eventually sell these houses but the economic situation over the years did not allow the people living there to afford to buy these houses.

“TCTA then approached me as the minister to say, let us donate these houses to the community. This meant that TCTA directly and government indirectly, through the DWS should donate these houses to the community. I approved this process and here, it is, done, these are 40 units which we went to see. We do need a moment of kindness, moments of good gestures, moments of kind gestures to the community and the public.

We say although the money that was spent there belongs to the whole public of South Africa in a sense that this project is wholly owned by the government, let us look at all the circumstances under which everything has developed. These are the people who have worked and are now retired, or it’s their descendants who now live here. Let’s give them the houses, it’s a good gesture, a humane gesture, it’s a sign of goodwill for the people of South Africa.”

Husband and wife beneficiaries Thomas and Sarah Thaele were speechless because of this kind gesture and were honoured when the Minister and his delegates visited their house on this door-to-door inspection of the units. Apparently, this family has been living in one of the 40 houses for almost 24 years.

“We are unable to express how excited we are because we have been living here for 24 years renting this house and our daughter was only five months when we entered this house and this year, she will be 25 years old. We relocated from Bloemfontein to live here because of work and rented one of the houses and when we arrived only about four houses were occupied,” the Thaeles said in an interview with The Guard.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TCTA Percy Sechemane says that the decision was based on the fact that these people have tenure, they have been here for a long time. Everybody has been living here for 15, 20 or more years, there was a verification process that was followed that is why this donation is happening now.

In the middle Thomas Thaele one of the beneficiaries, executive mayor of Dihlabeng local municipality Tseki Tseki and Water and Sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu.

“For transparency I couldn’t just say let’s start this process because everybody would have been looking at us saying why are we having new people instead of the old ones, the decision was influenced by the fact that looking at our history we have some people who lived on farms and the land owner wanted to chase them away but then couldn’t because looking at the number of years that these people have been living there they have a right to be there. So, for me it made sense to go to the board and say let us just work with those people who are already living in the houses let us donate to them, I mean its only 40 houses.”

Among the honoured guests were DWS Head of Department (HOD) Dr. Tseliso Ntili, Dihlabeng executive mayor James Tseki who was the programme director, some councillors of this local municipality as well as board members of TCTA.