Maria Mothupi, at the age of 99, at last owns her home. The freehold title deed to the house where this grand old lady has lived as a tenant since 1982, was presented to her on Thursday, 7 May 2015. A small party gathered in the living room of her house in Tumahole (Parys) to witness this auspicious event. Tersia Cook (73), 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, was there to present the title deed.
The joyful handover of the title deed by one grandmother to another was an emotional event that brought tears to the eyes of the bystanders. Maria’s daughter, Sylvia, and granddaughter, Anna, shared the special occasion with obvious pride.
Mayor, Joey Mochela, graciously represented the Ngwathe Municipal Council at the presentation. The 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 House) 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.
The Mayor told Maria that the Municipality was not giving her a gift but was transferring to her a property that was rightfully hers. She expressed great pleasure that a title deed was being handed to such a deserving person and thanked Tersia Cook for the gift of the conversion and title deed, an act from which Maria’s children and grandchildren will benefit.
Mayor, Joey Mochela, Maria Mothupi and Perry Feldman
Daughter, Sylvia, the youngest of ten children, 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. Receiving a title restores to Maria the value of the improvements she made to the rental property at her own expense.
Proudly displayed on a wall in the living room are medals won by a soccer-playing member of the family. Granddaughter, Anna, has completed her final year at school and the fact that her grandmother now owns their home will undoubtedly mean a brighter future for her. She has the benefit of living in a happy and secure home presided over by a remarkable matriarch.
Tersia Cook and Maria Mothupi
Tersia Cook said that being able to bring about something that means so much with something so small, paying only R1850 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 said that she hopes she will be able to visit Maria again on her 100th birthday in January 2016. Tersia urged 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 for Mrs Mothupi to receive her title deed in her home. Fresh from organising the event that was held in the Barnard Molokoane School hall in Tumahole, where 156 tenants on 15 April received title deeds that overnight turned them into home owners, they have become expert organisers. In a few months they will be organising another event at which more than 250 sponsored title deeds will be presented to current municipal tenants, which will further swell the ranks of Ngwathe home owners.
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
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.