The Endumeni municipality in KwaZulu-Natal manipulated housing lists, the High Court in Pietermaritzburg has found. The court told the municipality to fix the problem, a decision welcomed by frustrated residents.
The Endumeni Civic Association took the municipality to court after a housing project went wrong in 2015. Residents said the project benefitted local politicians. They claimed their houses were allocated to the wrong owners or used for rental by ward committee members.
Judge Poyo Dlwati found that there had been arbitrary application and manipulation of RDP housing waiting lists and that the housing allocations were unclear and corrupt. The municipality was ordered to file a report with the high court within two months (by 30 April).
While the judgement was delivered to the residents’ lawyer, Thabiso Mbhense from Legal Resources Centre, residents waited patiently outside court.
Among them was Sisi Mfundisi from Lindelani. Mfundisi applied for her house in 2014 but when it was allocated to her she found someone else living there.
“I received a SMS telling me my house was complete,” said Mfundisi. “I found an owner I have not seen before [in my house]. The woman told me it was her house. Until now the woman is occupying our house … She told me she was given the house by one of the ward committee members.”
Fikile Ntombela from Sibongile township said her application for a house had been approved but the house was occupied by someone else, forcing her to find another place to rent.
“My house was given to someone else. I made an enquiry but ward committee members were unable to help me. The judgment is in favour of us. It is the first step to our freedom,” said Ntombela.
Mbhense told GroundUp that the municipality would now be forced to consult the residents. ‘Whatever the municipality decides on the matter, residents will be part of it. There’s nothing that the municipality will do without consulting with the residents. We are happy that we have come this far with this case,” said Mbhense.
Coordinator of the Endumeni Civic Organisation Mzwakhe Sithebe said the judgment had restored the residents’ dignity.
“We tried meeting with the municipality but they have failed to meet our demands,” said Sithebe.
For an analysis of the case and its implications read: Endumeni housing judgment, a warning to municipalities.
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