This is a media release by Loyiso Notshokovu (ANC Bitou – Branch Deputy Chairperson) regards the housing fraud scandal in Plettenberg bay a.k.a. Bitou.
11 November 2014
Re: Bitou Municipality Housing Fraud
The following Memorandum of Grievances was served on the municipality yesterday:
- Violent and destructive protest is a major concern for the ANC.
- After the first incident thereof we immediately instituted safety measures and community liaison committees to monitor and control the situation to the best of our ability and resources available to us.
- We appointed a legal team that will facilitate the proper ventilation of all the allegations of fraud and corruption within the municipality, as well as in the ranks of certain political functionaries.
- When the DA took over in 2011 they put a hold on the housing project.
- The municipality embarked on a disciplinary investigation against the previous municipal manager, Mr Lonwabo Ngoqo, for “overspending” on the houses, building the people better houses than they would have received.
- Ngoqo was charged but found not guilty by Chairperson Peter Combrinck.
- Pre-2011 there was a housing committee that monitored the housing schemes and did patrols almost on a daily basis to ensure no one jumps the list or add informal structures to the houses.
- Bitou was awarded Top 3 Nationally for best housing project.
- When the DA took power the housing committee was dismantled.
- After the 2011 elections there was a sense of excitement under DA supporters in the townships since they were led to believe that they stand a better chance of receiving houses.
- After a few years these aspirations started fading and various protest marches was staged.
- Some ended violently with riots and destruction of property.
- Various Ministers and high ranking politicians came to Bitou and addressed the issue of housing.
- The people’s aspirations were lifted again.
- During the run-up to the By-election in Ward 7 in October 2014, both parties campaigned heavily for this hotly contested and crucial By-Election. The council was equality divided at that point and the winner of this Ward would take control of the town.
- The issue of housing or more to the point lack thereof, was the major election issue raised by potential voters to the DA.
- Because the repeated promises didn’t convince the people, something more tangible had to be done.
- The following actions were taken by the DA and/or Memory Booysen, the Mayor:
a) Symbolic doors and windows, and so on was handed to voters who joined the DA and who undertook to vote DA.
b) Memory personally handed over keys to houses, side-lining the Ward councillors and officials (this is presumed legit houses, properly on the list).
After the DA won the By-Election:
- The position regarding the list: there was a proper list and everyone thereon knew exactly the position; for instance number 205, etc.
- The movement was closely monitored by those affected to see when they move closer to receiving a house.
- Each Councillor had this list since queries was normally addressed to the specific Ward Councillor.
- Each Ward had a “surplus” of names. This means the number of people still on the list since 2010 that still needs to receive houses.
- Soon after the By-election, people started noticing that people who are not on the list started moving into houses.
- More and more complaints reached the ears of the Ward Councillors.
- They started questioning officials in the Bitou Housing department.
- Disgruntled and affected people visited the municipality together with the Ward councillors.
- At first, each case was adequately resolved by the municipality, awarding alternative houses to the complainants.
- It was clear they were trying to kill the fire.
- It caught up with them since the complaints escalated to a point where it bottle-necked.
- ANC Chief Whip wrote to the municipality to report the situation.
- The same week, two officials in the housing department were suspended.
- Soon, thereafter, the community in KwanoKuthula called a public meeting. The news was spreading of major housing fraud.
- The community meeting was held in the community centre on Saturday 25 October 2014.
Issues were raised by the community:
- There were allegations made of keys being handed to the wrong people and/or houses being awarded under cover of night.
- Houses were given to unapproved persons who are not on the list.
- The list must be made available to the public so that they can see for themselves who exactly received houses.
- They want the list of 2010 and the current list.
- Threats were levelled at current occupiers who the community believed to be there unfairly.
- Some threatened to take the law into their own hands and “deal” with the problem themselves.
- The above is a major concern for the ANC and we immediately instituted safe guards and community liaison committees to monitor and control the situation to the best of our ability and the resources available to us.
- The community also requested another public meeting with all the councillors and officials present.
- Alleged bribery of housing officials in order to jump the list.
- Non-South Africa Resident/s received houses.
The ANC undertook to do the following:
- Investigate these claims at the offices of the municipality today.
- Try and vacillate the next meeting as requested by the community.
- Seek legal advice.
The ANC has since established that high ranking officials are involved in the corruption and fraud.
The ANC has since established that politicians and the mayor’s office are involved in the corruption and housing fraud.
The mayor in fact admitted in public that he changed the lists and that it is in his power as mayor to do so.
We now learned that the municipality has closed its doors under the guise of “investigating” the fraud and corruption.
This is nothing else as a grand scale cover up!
We demand that the HAWKS, SIU and National Government take over the investigation and report back to the community within 7 days after date hereof, with a full report of all the issues raised here above.