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City of Cape Town issuing title deeds to its poor residents

November 10, 2013

The City of Cape Town has shown its commitment to building an Opportunity City, where all citizens are given the means to reach their full potential and become full and productive citizens.

The City has to consider the foundation of any society where people have economic freedom and economic choices.

But in creating opportunity, we have to look deeper than networks, to the foundations upon which any network is built.

It is the foundation of ownership.

Many of the City’s residents are already owners in our economy.

Many of the poorer residents, however, are not.

And at the individual level, in most cases, the major asset from which all other opportunities can be leveraged is the home.

That is why the City of Cape Town has been providing title to qualifying beneficiaries, to expand opportunity to poorer citizens.

Indeed, I believe that there is arguably no single intervention that holds the greater prospect of changing the lived reality of poor and marginalised citizens that the provision of ownership.

Having title to property is a fundamental requirement of a free market system, as it allows a home owner to derive an income and to access capital.

Title enables recipients to start or expand a business venture, which in turn enables them to derive an income stream and help create jobs.

The City is driving this process in numerous ways.

First, they are ensuring the transfer of title in new housing projects, with recent significant successes including Kewtown in Athlone and Kuyasa in Khayelitsha.

Indeed, the handover of title deeds continues almost every week in the city.

Secondly, a separate process has seen the City focus on affording ownership to qualifying beneficiaries in existing housing.

There are currently 16 000 saleable units in the City, which include row houses, semi-detached and free standing homes.

These are units which can be properly surveyed and title transferred.

The City will make use of every available mechanism to ensure that costs are kept to an absolute minimum for qualifying beneficiaries; including the provision of the full R88 000 subsidy to qualifying beneficiaries to cover the property price and any rental arrears.

Furthermore, the City will contribute to the conveyance costs.

The third process is specifically aimed at redress, where the City is focused on transferring title to beneficiaries in historical housing projects, where these housing projects were completed more than 10 years ago.

The failure to transfer title in these projects is a national problem, which has arisen from the fact that many of these areas were not properly surveyed; were subject to illegal occupation; and a range of other factors.

The City has appointed a consultant to overcome these difficulties and to ensure that, over the coming years, title is afforded to an estimated 30 000 possible beneficiaries.

On Saturday 26 October 2013, the Cllr. Garreth Bloor handed over title deeds to residents from Site C, Khayelitsha as part of this third stream of direct redress, in which we focus on historical housing projects. 

The beneficiaries of these titles have travelled a long journey since the 1980s to finally realise the benefits of home ownership.

The history of the finalisation of title deeds for Site C residents is a reminder of our divided past.

Indeed, they were once forcefully removed to Site C by the Apartheid regime.

For years they did not have access to full basic services due to the supposed temporary nature of their community.

Due to numerous problems, including changes in government structures, project difficulties, surveying difficulties, complications around service upgrades and difficulties around erven line, what was supposed to be a smooth process of title transfer has only recently been concluded.

But the series of constructive engagements the community has had with the current City administration have helped to resolve this process.

All Capetonians should take pride in this occasion as it marked the beginning of a new chapter for residents of Site C.

The City issued the first group of 50 title deeds to those beneficiaries who have been waiting the longest to obtain them.

The rest of the remaining 2 785 title deeds will be issued starting in November from the Solomon Tshuku Hall in Site C.

All of the other beneficiaries will be able to collect theirs by visiting the site with their proof of identification.

The City of Cape Town is working to broaden the base of opportunity in this city, especially in terms of our infrastructure investment.

But the greatest investment it can make is in its people, especially by giving them ownership.

This makes economic sense.

It makes financial sense.

It makes business sense.

But whatever else it does, it is the right thing to do.

The City has persevered with a number of noteable initiative, who collectively will shift development to many of its previous disadvantaged community.

Worthy mentions include the renaming of streets in Gugulethu, using under utilised City-owned buildings for economic activity and the integrated public transport system.

Once completed these solutions will have broken down the worst legacies of Apartheid spatial planning and ensured that historically marginalised communities, from Atlantis to Khayelitsha, will be able to access  economic opportunities utilising safe and reliable public transport networks.

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