16 January 2018
an historic occasion took place in the Stellenbosch Town Hall. Under the Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam (My Home) initiative, Mrs Gaynor Rupert, wife of businessman Mr Johann Rupert, handed out 117 full ownership titles together with the Stellenbosch executive mayor Cllr Gesie van Deventer to tenants of council properties. The beneficiaries for the deeds are from Kylemore, Le Roux, Cloetesville, Khayamandi and Franschhoek. The oldest beneficiary is 87 years old.
Mrs Rupert spoke about the importance of home ownership to previously deprived black citizens of South Africa. These are the first of 1,000 titles Mr Rupert has sponsored to help bring about true transformation through home ownership to the poorest people living in his home town. She said, “JR sends his regards from Switzerland and regrets he cannot attend in person. It is an important cause for every South African to have secure land and to help others to help themselves. We are looking forward to helping with the next 1000”.
These 117 residents will enter the Town Hall as tenants and walk out as home owners with full freehold title. This is the first step towards real economic empowerment.
Cllr van Deventer said, “In South Africa, the ability to be able to own property is considered a basic right. Worldwide there is a trend that shows a clear relationship between property ownership or the lack thereof and levels of poverty. In countries where people own their property, it results in greater security and prosperity and lower levels of poverty. Where people are secure in their ownership of a property it allows for the facilitation of economic transactions, more efficient and sustainable resource use, and for the evolution in credit markets.”
For over 40 years the Free Market Foundation (FMF) has championed the cause of converting the various forms of Apartheid title found in the townships to full, unambiguous ownership for the current tenants.
The FMF’s Khaya Lam (My Home) land reform initiative delivers real economic empowerment of home ownership to township residents deprived of their dignity and rights under apartheid by facilitating the conversion of council owned rental properties into freehold title - at no cost to the recipients.
The 1913 Natives Land Act prohibited black South Africans from owning land in so-called ‘white areas’ – restricting the question of land ownership entirely to the ethnic authorities in the reserves, later known as homelands. Black people in the cities thus lived as tenants on property owned by the local municipality, which developed into what we know today as ‘townships’. Not much has changed.
FMF executive director Leon Louw said, “Black land deprivation was probably the single worst element of the colonial and apartheid eras and little has changed since 1994. Between 5 million and 7 million black and coloured families still live as tenants or without ownership rights in houses they have lived in for generations. There has been no systematic conversion of these ‘council owned’ and ‘traditional community’ properties to full, unrestricted ownership".”
He continued, “We are deeply grateful to Johann Rupert for his generous sponsorship without which we cannot do this critical work on behalf of black tenants. He and fellow business leaders and individual sponsors keep Khaya Lam going.”
Titling in South Africa is a painstaking process complicated by lack of records of ownership and bureaucratic complexity. That municipalities and sponsors are willing to invest time and funds to achieve home ownership for disadvantaged communities is a testament to the goodwill and drive to right the evils of apartheid which are still evident in South African society today.