Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers says his department's week-long visit to the Hessequa Municipality and Overberg District Municipal area has been valuable to all stakeholders.
Accompanied by his department's senior executive, Minister Simmers engaged various stakeholders including executive and senior management in the Hessequa, Swellendam, Cape Agulhas, Overstrand and Theewaterskloof municipalities. Buffesjagsrivier residents received Title Deeds, while houses were handed over in Areas F and H in Bredasdorp, Hawston and in Grabouw. Site visits were also conducted in Melkhoutfontein and Barrydale.
Minister Simmers said: "These engagements were critical, as it presented us with the opportunity to clarify our processes, as there were some municipalities that did not understand how the funding and planning model of human settlements works. I am happy to say that all municipalities and those stakeholders who participated in these events now have a clear understanding.
The engagements were further used to confirm the Human Settlements budget for 20/21 financial year. Hessequa's allocation is R9,7 million. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was also signed, where my department is assisting this municipality to commence with the installation of bulk services in Melkhoutfontien. This MOA, which is worth R1,2 million and included in the R9,7 million comes from my Department's own revenue and not the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG).
Swellendam's allocation is R15,4 million, while Overstrand's is R82,78 million. Theewaterskloof has an allocation of just over R59 million.
Cape Agulhas' allocation is R20,65 million. We also signed a MOA, which is worth R10 million with this municipality to pilot a unique project which will over a period of time allow those who will be renting, the opportunity to purchase their properties. These individuals are already on the municipality's housing database. More details will follow in due course and a sod turning will occur.
As much as we were able to conduct these engagements, it brought me most joy to handover houses to former backyard dwellers, farmworkers, persons with disabilities and people who were on the waiting list for an average of over 15 years. I was also pleased to hand over Title Deeds, as these events are truly making a significance and tangible difference in the lives of our people."
Mr and Mrs Dawid Fielies who were former farm dwellers and received their home in Area H, Bredasdorp, could not contain their joy. Mrs Feitjie Fielies said: "I never thought this day would come and there was a time when I lost some hope. Today, we are so pleased, so happy. I'd like to express my sincere gratitude to the Minister and everyone else who made this day possible."
Mr Daniel Pietersen and his wife, Mrs Johanna Pietersen who received their Title Deed at their home in Buffelsjagsrivier were also grateful to finally become legal and fully-fledged homeowners. Mr Pietersen said: "It is difficult to express how happy we are, but this is a day we will never forget. Thank you to all who made it possible, it really means the world to us."
Minister Simmers added: "Given the current economic climate and cuts in our budgets, which affects all spheres of governments, I once again call on municipalities to incorporate alternatives such as Sustainable Building Technologies (SBT's) and other affordable housing solutions in their development mix so that they're able to deliver to their people, at an accelerated pace.
I would also like to thank the thousands of viewers who followed the proceedings live on Facebook, particularly since the current regulations limit large public events. COVID-19 has placed us in unprecedented times and by utilising technology and social media to ensure the public is part of these types of engagements, we're demonstrating the transparency of the Western Cape Government.
The Western Cape Government remains committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society."