Today in Koppies, just outside Parys in the Free State, 100 occupiers of council properties – some of whom have been tenants for 30 years – received title deeds to their homes.
“Today, when you return home, you will no longer be tenants, but homeowners,” said Temba Nolutshungu, director of the Free Market Foundation, to the 100 recipients and their families in the auditorium.
Standard Bank was a key sponsor of the title deeds, while Perry Feldman, project director of the Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam Land Reform Project, said a lot of title deeds in the foundations other projects were paid for by ordinary South African citizens.
This powerful initiative extends the economic, social and security benefits of homeownership to underprivileged South Africans.
“Although once a thriving town with many small businesses, today Kwakwatsi (Koppies) is seriously economically deprived with unemployment and hardship clearly visible,” the Free Market Foundation’s executive director, Leon Louw, said. “There is no better place for Standard Bank to put its money. The FMF is delighted to partner with them.”
With the 1913 Land Act banning ownership by black South Africans, the objective of the Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam Land Reform Project is to assist in having all council-owned properties countrywide upgraded to full freehold title.
“This is an important step towards giving many more people in our country the full benefits, security and pride associated with owning a home,” said Andrew van der Hoven, head of Home Loans at Standard Bank. “There is a long journey ahead to achieving land reform in our country, but if more people get involved we can make significant strides together in uplifting the lives of our citizens.”
Black land deprivation was probably the single worst element of the colonial and apartheid eras, and little has changed since 1994, said Louw.
“Between five million and seven million black and coloured families still live as tenants or without ownership rights in houses they have lived in for generations,” he said. “There has been no systematic conversion of these ‘council owned’ and ‘traditional community’ properties to full, unrestricted ownership.”
Ezekiel Mokhele, 57-year-old Koppies resident, has been waiting for the title deed to his home for the past 30 years. He told HomeTimes that today was a very happy day for him as he could now finally grow his business.
Reverend Peterson of the General Reformed Faith Apostolic Church in Koppies, who considers himself a community leader, said he was happy for his people who have been waiting a long time, and that it was a joyous day for him.
“Even though I do not have my title deed yet, I am happy for my people,” he told HomeTimes. “I know they realise how powerful it is to have the title deed to their home.”
Photo: 100 residents of Kwakatsi township outside Koppies in the Free State and part of the Ngwathe Muncipality were handed title deeds to their homes. The project was a Standard Bank /FMF (Free Market Foundation) and Khaya Lam intiative. The youngest to receive his title deed was Paadjie Marumo (30) and the oldest was Moratuwa Moranye (82). Photo: Craig Nieuwenhuizen