SIU Focuses on Housing Officials in Overstrand Municipal Investigation

Residents of Zwelihle gather during protests after an illegal land invasion attempt on March 27, 2018 in Hermanus, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais)

  • A SIU housing investigation is underway in Hermanus.
  • The investigation will focus on allegations of corruption and maladministration among housing officials.
  • Housing was at the heart of violent protests in the city in 2018.

Officials from the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) have traveled to the coastal town of Hermanus, aiming to shed light on allegations of maladministration and corruption among housing officials.

Overstrand Mayor Annelie Rabie said the investigation would relate to the affairs of the municipality’s housing division.

President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the SIU permission to survey the municipality’s housing unit in December.

Rabie said in a statement:

The SIU began with in-person interviews with concerned members of the public and city officials on Sunday, April 17, after all relevant information was provided to them upon their request.

Interviews were due to end on Friday.

News24 previously reported that the SIU would focus on “maladministration with respect to the approval, allocation or payment of housing subsidies and the allocation of houses”.

Gcobani Ndzongana of the Land Party said communities in the Hermanus area had expressed concerns about housing allocation for many years, culminating in violent protests in Zwelihle in 2018.

He said the complaints to the SIU relate to people selected as beneficiaries of housing estates in the area.

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Ndzongana alleged that at each housing estate, some politically connected people received houses.

These houses were then rented out to people, so that the owner’s children could occupy them later, Ndzongana said.

“I don’t want government donations anymore, because when they distribute houses, they first give houses to their fellow citizens. The real beneficiaries don’t benefit,” he said.

Another claim was that developments in the area tended to cater to the needs of the wealthy, leaving township residents with little chance of moving to better housing.

He added that a list compiled by the community had up to 5,000 people waiting for accommodation.

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Rabie added that the irregularities were initially noted during an internal audit investigation in 2019.

“It should be noted that Overstrand Town Council asked the Premier of the Western Cape in 2019 for a forensic audit to be carried out after an internal audit investigation revealed irregularities within the housing department of Overstrand,” Rabie said.

The investigation was due to end at the end of June. The findings would be made public, Rabie added.

The SIU had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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Melissa C. Keyes