Human Rights Commission probes poorly built RDP houses

Shoddy workmanship, inferior building materials and unfinished projects will be the focus of an inquiry by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) into RDP housing in North West.

The inquiry, which will take place over a period of six days, started on Friday with a series of site inspections in eight areas spread across five municipalities.

The site inspections will be conducted in the first three days with the inquiry taking place from May 10 to 12 at Seasons Conference and Wedding venue in Mahikeng.

SAHRC North West provincial manager Shirley Mlombo said the commission has received a large number of complaints regarding unfinished and inadequate RDP houses.

In a statement released ahead of the inquiry, the SAHRC said complaints about unfinished houses include those that were not built beyond the foundation stage; those whose walls were built up to the halfway point; and those left without roofing.

“These houses make it impossible for the owners thereof to take occupation. As a result, these houses are vandalised,” the commission said.

“The complaints of inadequate houses relate to buildings that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.

“They also relate to the use of inferior building materials and poor workmanship, and, as a result, this poses safety threats/risks to the livelihoods of the occupiers.”

Speaking to Sunday World ahead of the inquiry, Mlombo said it was difficult for her office to confirm the total number of complaints received.

“Many of them would have been addressed by my predecessors individually. The complaints that are currently active are from 2022 and 2023,” she said.

Mlombo said one of the aims of the inquiry is to assess the prevalence of the challenges of unfinished and inadequate RDP houses in the province.

“To this end, we requested the department of human settlements to provide us with a list of all unfinished housing projects in the North West provincial office and the number of houses concerned.”

Mlombo said the stakeholders who have been invited to make submissions at the inquiry include residents of the affected areas; the provincial department of human settlements; the office of the premier; the office of the auditor-general; the office of the public protector; the Public Service Commission; JB Marks local municipality; Madibeng local municipality; Rustenburg local municipality; Mahikeng local municipality; Maquassi Hill local municipality; City of Matlosana and the provincial treasury.

The SAHRC will conduct inspections at Lethabong village in Rustenburg on Friday. From Monday to Wednesday, it will carry out site inspections in Jericho, Letlhabile and Segwaelane in Brits; Kanana; Wolmaransstad; and Mahikeng.

“The aim of the inspections is to verify the information received first-hand and obtain information from residents on how the reported challenge has affected them as people,” Mlombo said, adding that the commission hopes to finalise the report on the inquiry by March 31 2024.

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