26 July 2005
Thousands of people converged on Ga-Rankuwa Extension 23 to celebrate the launch of a multimillion-rand housing project in the North West township last Thursday.
With some dwellings already complete, the project will provide 850 36m² houses to 1 700 people from Ga-Rankuwa and surrounding squatter camps.
It is part of the North West government’s plan to rid the province of squatter camps by building 22 000 houses a year for the next three years.
The Ga-Rankuwa project provides water reticulation, sanitation, electricity, parks and tarred roads, in addition to housing.
It is a joint undertaking by the North West government and the City of Tshwane. Although the border area falls in North West, it is serviced by the Tshwane Metro of Gauteng.
From September, additional housing projects will be launched in other parts of Ga-Rankuwa, as well as in Mabopane and Winterveldt.
North West MEC for Developmental Local Government and Housing Phenye Vilakazi told residents that the project helped fulfil the 1955 Freedom Charter vision that “there shall be houses for all”.
Warning to freeloaders
But Vilakazi warned that “people who abuse government’s good intention to house its people” by acquiring houses they were not entitled to would be dealt with by the law.
“These houses are for people who do not have shelter and cannot afford to buy their own houses. They are not for people who already have houses and who have the means to acquire houses.”
He also warned that the law would deal with “those who sell the houses, those who let the houses out, those who set up businesses and do not live there, as well as those who build huge mansions after acquiring the houses”.
Tshwane Mayor Smangaliso Mkhatshwa said that once the projects were complete, Ga-Rankuwa would be the first township in the country without squatter camps.
Both Mkhatshwa and Vilakazi urged residents to care for their houses, parks and other infrastructure, and guard them against vandalism. They handed out replicas of the house keys to three people – a person living with disability, a pensioner and a mother who earns a low income.
Elias Hlatshwayo (52), who lost his right hand, part of his left hand and part of his leg to leprosy, has been in and out of hospital. He said he was ecstatic at being given the first house of his life.
“When I went to the office to apply for a house I did not believe them when they told me I was going to get my own house. But today, I can’t wait to get into my house with my two children,” Hlatshwayo said.