27 October 2020
Minister of Human Settlement, Mr Tertius Simmers, Stellenbosch Executive Mayor van Deventer, and the FMF’s Khaya Lam Director, Temba Nolutshungu, deliver title deeds to front gates in Pniel, Stellenbosch
The Free Market Foundation’s (FMF) Khaya Lam (My Home) land reform project, touched the lives of another 16 families on Thursday 22 October in Stellenbosch, Western Cape. In partnership with the Stellenbosch Municipality and sponsors, Dr Johann Rupert and his wife Gaynor, Minister of Human Settlement Mr Tertius Simmers, Stellenbosch Executive Mayor Advocate Gesie van Deventer, and Khaya Lam’s Temba Nolutshungu visited the families at the front gates to their homes where the fully tradable title deeds were presented to the 16 beneficiaries, making them home owners. Breaking with the usual ceremonial procedure, starting from the Pniel Municipality building in Simonsberg Street, this was a walking procession entailing personal engagement with the community and beneficiaries, including the oldest recipient, 77 year old Mrs Estelle Daniels and her husband, Godfrey.
Minister Simmers had his own special reason to be present as he is living proof of the power of a title deed to escape the poverty trap. His parents took out a student loan based on their own title deed.
Temba A Nolutshungu, FMF Director, quoted the late American academic, administrator and politician Kenneth Guinn (1936 – 2010), “There is something permanent, and extremely profound, in owning a house”. Nolutshungu continued, “With these words, the Free Market Foundation recognises this event of home ownership as one of the most important things to have ever occurred in your life, As you move into the future owning this economic asset which is so spiritually and emotionally uplifting, you can be sure that it can never be taken from you by any government. The generous enabling support of the Rupert family and the wonderful collaboration with the Municipality of Stellenbosch have made all this possible”.
Speaking on behalf on the Pniel community, beneficiary Mr Chris Lewis said, “The owners of the properties in Simonsberg Street, Pniel, have a unique history in their quest for home ownership. Our story dates back some 20 years, when we were not considered for the housing development by the then Pniel Management Council. We challenged the matter in court and in 1998 the court ruled in our favour to be allocated properties in the Pniel housing development. However, the Court Order was ignored and the properties were sold to other parties. Negotiations with the beneficiaries resulted in an alternative property being identified for development. The beneficiaries’ tenacity to keep writing to the then Minister of Water and Forestry, resulted in the funds being allocated to the Pniel Simonsberg development for the servicing of properties.”
Ilze Couvaras, an Administrative Officer for Housing Administration Planning and Economic Development, said that the process was derailed for quite some time but the residents did not give up.
Manager of Housing Administration, Mrs Rotanda Nona Swartbooi, agreed saying, “Although Mr Lewis continuously pursued the matter throughout the following years, no successful processing of these transfers occurred until their case received particular attention from the current administration.”
Mr Lewis paid tribute to the dedication of Mayor van Deventer and the efforts of Mrs Swartbooi for the services they received from staff members at the Housing Administration and the team of temporary staff who signed documentation with the beneficiaries.
In partnership with Khaya Lam and the Municipality, Johann and Gaynor Rupert are making a tangible difference to the lives of ordinary South Africans and especially the poorest people living in Stellenbosch. The joint aim is to bring about true economic and social transformation through property ownership.
Talking about Khaya Lam, Dr Rupert has said that his family was extremely fortunate in the wealth that that they have amassed and that they needed to use it for the greater good. “It is easy to give away money but more difficult to find organisations that spend the time to use the funds properly and efficiently,” he said, and commended the FMF and Khaya Lam for their ability to do this.
For over 40 years, the 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. To date, the Ruperts have sponsored 1,000 titles in Stellenbosch and 1,000 in Graaff Reinet where Dr Rupert’s father, Anton, was born. To date, over 700 title deeds have been presented in Stellenbosch. The Ruperts have pledged a further 10,000 titles.