Residents want deed questions answered

Herman Bartie, Freedom Park Development Association founder and chairman, and Adielah van Schalkwyk, office manager.

Freedom Park residents have called for the City of Cape Town’s lawyers to answer questions they have about requests to sign new sale agreements.

Freedom Park was part of the Mitchell’s Plain Phase 1 Housing Project, when 493 houses were built and residents signed deeds of sale about a decade ago.

Residents were confused after they received letters from RR Housing Management, dated May 21 2019, calling on them to transfer the property in which they reside in their name.

“You are requested to complete a new Deed of Sale, for the property to be registered and for you to receive a Title Deed of the property,” read their letters.

They and their spouses would have to take their latest water bill, identity document, the same for their spouse, marriage certificate, copy of their divorce or death certificate of the spouse to Tafelsig community centre, corner of Olifantshoek and Bokkeveld streets between 9am and 1pm. 

“If you are married, your husband or wife must come with you,” instructed the letters.

Herman Bartie, founder and chairman of the Freedom Park Development Association (FPDA), wrote a letter to the City’s director of new housing, dated Tuesday June 18. “We are requesting through the director to have a meeting with the appointed attorneys, who is doing the re-signing of the Deed of Sales please,” read their letter.

Mr Bartie told the Plainsman on Thursday June 27 that their office, in Spitzkop Street,Tafelsig, had been inundated with concerned residents asking whether they should sign the new documents.

The association said their letter also specified that they would give the City seven working days to respond to their request.

During a public meeting with Bongile Ngcani, councillor for Ward 99, on Wednesday June 12, resident and office manager of the FPDA, Adiela van Schalkwyk, asked why they needed to sign documents again.

She said 10 years ago residents signed as independent homeowners, and some had different marital status, but now their spouses were being told to also sign.

“We don’t know whether these spouses own other properties, which could jeopardise the signing of the new documents,” she said.

Ms Van Schalkwyk, who had worked as a marketing consultant for the housing project 10 years ago, said her signature is on most of the original documents but now she knew nothing about signing documents again.

In response to a Plainsman media enquiry, Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, asked that residents sign the new agreements. “Rest assured that these agreements will go through a rigorous vetting system to ensure that transfer will be made only to original approved beneficiaries still in occupation of these houses,” he said.

Mr Booi said local leadership had been consulted and if there were still some unanswered concerns the City would arrange the requested meeting with the transferring attorneys.

He said in November 2016, the then City manager had approved the development of the Ownership Regularisation Programme (ORP), which would essentially manage the transfer of title to beneficiaries in historic housing programmes, as well as manage the current development of all Breaking New Ground (BNG) programmes, with the intention of avoiding that new backlogs in delivering title deeds to housing beneficiaries were created.

He said the biggest problem in historic projects was that thousands of beneficiaries were missing.

Mr Booi said current legislation did not make provision for relevant and practical solutions to address this situation.

“We thus had to develop our own guidelines, which had to be legally and administratively sound,” he said.

On October 27 2017, the municipality approved the guidelines and solutions that were to be implemented to deal with the current backlog and approved a dedicated unit to deal with these historic transfers.

Freedom Park was one such area, where the legal processes were neglected.

“We are now ensuring that all original approved beneficiaries sign new agreements and receive the transfer that they are due,” Mr Booi said.

Mr Booi said no rights were being taken away; and that new marriages and divorces were being dealt with in terms of sound provincial policy.

He said the programme would effectively address all contested transfers and ensure that people who have been living in these houses, have a legitimate claim to ownership to receive the title deed.

In this project, Kets Attorneys were appointed to manage the transfers, and RR Housing is assisting them with the signing of City and provincially sanctioned new sale agreements that have been adapted to comply with the latest legislation, such as the Protection of Personal Information Act, as well as the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.