Khaya Lam matriarch Maria Mothupi turned 100 on 10 January 2016

Khaya Lam organised a small party on 21 January to celebrate the 100th birthday of Maria Mothupi, honouring a promise made last year when the grand old lady was presented with a title deed to her home on 7 May by sponsor Tersia Cook. Mrs Mothupi has lived in her house in Tumahole (Parys) since 1982 and after 33 years of living in insecurity she finally received security of tenure in 2015. Tersia Cook (74), who donated the funds to pay for the registration of the title deed as a 60th birthday gift to her brother Frans Campher, now living in the UK, brought a huge birthday cake and a gift for the birthday celebration.                            
Maria Mothupi – 7 May 2015            

The meeting between the two grandmothers was a repeat of the previous joyful event. Maria’s daughter, Sylvia, and granddaughter, Anna, were again present to share the special occasion. We were surprised to discover that we had fortuitously chosen Anna’s birthday on which to celebrate her grandmother’s 100th, so it turned into a party for the two of them. I asked Sylvia what she considered to be the greatest change that having a title deed had brought about for her mother and the family. “Peace of mind” she said, “we are no longer anxious about what might happen to us in the future”. It made us really happy to note that Mrs Mothupi seemed physically stronger than she was in May last year – she moved around with no help and no walking stick. Was it because she could “sleep well now” as she had said when she received her title deed?

In October 2009, the Ngwathe Municipal Council, by a unanimous vote of all political parties, took the momentous and far-sighted decision to partner with the Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam (My Home) land reform project and transfer all Ngwathe Municipally-owned rental housing to registered tenants at no cost to the tenants. They could not have foreseen what the full impact of transformation through ownership would be on the lives of the residents of Ngwathe. The manifold beneficial consequences for the community are becoming increasingly clear as the project progresses.

Maria Mothupi with her birthday cake

Daughter, Sylvia, the youngest of ten children, last year described the receiving of the title deed as a miracle. Her mother had worked for many years, and, on a very modest salary, had raised her children and even managed to build on extra rooms to house the large family. Possessing a title deed to her home restored to Maria the value of the improvements she had made to the rental property at her own expense.


Eustace Davie, Maria Mothupi and granddaughter Anna

Tersia Cook said that being able to bring about something that means so much with something so small, paying less than R2 000 for the conversion of a house to freehold title, was amazing and a privilege. Bringing about transformation through ownership for Maria Mothupi and her family is a memory that Tersia will treasure and she was very happy to be able to visit Maria to celebrate her 100th birthday. Tersia urges fellow South Africans to consider sponsoring Khaya Lam title deeds. “It makes you feel as though you are giving someone a house even though you are only paying the costs of registering the title deed.”

Jeanette Mpondo and Perry Feldman, who manage the FMF Khaya Lam pilot project in Ngwathe, were particularly delighted to be able to arrange the celebration of Mrs Mothupi’s auspicious birthday. They are currently busy organising the presentation of another 200 title deeds sponsored by FNB to new Ngwathe home owners. The number of title deeds registered and in the pipeline is fast approaching 1 000. In addition there are close on 400 title deeds sponsored for households in the Western Cape.    

The Khaya Lam (My House) Land Reform Project makes everyone who is involved in it feel good. It is a case of South Africans working together to improve the lives of those who, in the past, were denied the security of property ownership. Khaya Lam provides a demonstration of the benefits of co-operation to bring about transformation in the lives of others, perhaps not all as deserving as Maria Mothupi, but deserving nonetheless.

For more on the Khaya Lam Project and to donate.

Author: Eustace Davie is a director of the Free Market Foundation. This article may be republished without prior consent but with acknowledgement to the author. The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the FMF. 


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