If you’re on a housing list, better not break up with your partner

Ocean View resident falls foul of housing policy

Photo of a street with houses

Mountain View Housing Project in Ocean View. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

By Thembela Ntongana

14 July 2016

If you’re on a housing list, don’t break up with your partner. That’s the lesson from the story of Diana Kok, who lost the house she’d spent 13 years waiting for when she separated from her husband.

Every day, Kok would go and check on the construction of her house in Ocean View. She watched the laying of the foundations; saw the windows being put in. But then, she didn’t get the house.

A beneficiary of the Mountain View housing project, Kok had been on the waiting list for 13 years. A backyarder at her sister’s place for the past ten years, she is a domestic worker. She has no permanent employment.

When she initially applied, she signed the application together with her husband. Nine years later they separated.

When the day came for her to sign to get the key for her house, she found her ex-husband was also there to sign. Kok said she could not live together with him in the house. 

Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Benedicta van Minnen said the Koks had applied together for the project and been approved. “When their house was ready for occupation, Ms Kok and Mr Kok were no longer partners and refused to move in together … As a result, the Koks’ subsidy will be withdrawn from the Ocean View housing project, and from the national database so that they can apply for a subsidy in the future,” said Van Minnen.

Kok’s lawyer, Ruben Arendse, said Kok had only been given two options: to move in with her ex-husband or to forfeit the house. This was in September 2015, but Arendse said when he checked the status of the house, the title deed was still in Kok’s and her ex-husband’s name.

And yet, says Kok, there are currently people living in the house which is in her name. That isn’t right, says her lawyer.

According to the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements, in order to qualify for a “Breaking New Ground” house one must be South African, 18 years or older, and on a waiting list; one must never have owned a house before and one must have dependants.