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Municipality and Khaya Lam help ‘buyers’ from 1994 own their land

A flourishing new partnership between the George Municipality and the Khaya Lam Land Reform Project has facilitated the issuing of title deeds to 12 people in Pacaltsdorp who could never afford the transfer fees to take ownership of properties they bought from the municipality in 1994. The municipality is optimistic that the remaining 113 will be finalised in a similar fashion in the foreseeable future.

George Municipality Human Settlements Director Charles Lubbe said 874 plots of open municipal land had been sold at minimal cost to beneficiaries in Andersonville during land reformation in the 1990s, but many could not afford the legal fees for the title deeds to be transferred to their names. “It had been very frustrating for everyone involved, mostly because the collective legal costs of so many properties (in George and the rest of the country) were beyond the financial reach of government and many charities.

“Through the years 761 title deeds in the Andersonville project had been registered since 1994 as money was raised, but 125 beneficiaries were still without title deeds last year.”

Then, in mid-2020, George Executive Mayor Leon van Wyk connected the municipality’s Existing Housing section with the Khaya Lam Project, a programme of the Free Market Foundation that secures the legal fees through donations from mostly wealthy individuals to pay for the transfers. Since then, 12 title deeds have been finalised and is currently being handed over to owners.

The Existing Housing section has been reaching out to the other beneficiaries from the 1994 Andersonville land sale and hopes to update relevant information as soon as possible so title deeds can continue for those properties also.

Mr Lubbe said the first 12 title deeds in this renewed effort signalled a major victory for the ‘new’ owners and the department. “Finally, after 26 years, people can take ownership of their land and we rejoice with them in this major break-through. We are so grateful towards Khaya Lam, and in this case businessman Brian Benfield who sponsored these first 12 title deeds, for making a significant difference in the lives of our people in such a practical life-changing way.

“While Covid-19 precautions prevent us from making a bigger deal out of the handover of title deeds, we thank all roleplayers on behalf of the owners for making their dreams a reality and we look forward to making this happen for the remainder of people in this project, and beyond.”

Land Reform Project Manager Perry Feldman commended the determination and tenacity of Existing Housing Manager Willene Daries who had driven the process to get a memorandum of understanding signed amidst the complications of Level 5 lockdown last year and officials who had gone out of their way to help albeit from home offices via online meetings. “It is really special to hand over these title deeds to people like Elizabeth Fortuin who had come in the rain to pick up this treasured piece of paper this morning, she was so grateful that this was finally resolved,” said Ms Daries.

Participants in the Andersonville housing project of 1994 who had not made recent contact with the Existing Housing section about the title deeds for these properties must please urgently update their information by calling 044 801 9113 or 044 801 9078 or visiting the offices behind the Main Building in York Street (next to the clinic).

Elizabeth Fortuin (right) came all the way from Pacaltsdorp in the rain today to pick up the title deed to the property she had bought in 1994. Existing Housing Manager Willene Daries was delighted to hand it over.