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Civil servants enjoy ultra-cheap housing

01 April 2015 - 02:56 By Penwell Dlamini

A deputy director in the Gauteng government has for the past 18 years been paying R900 a month to live in a state-owned house. Sello Moremane, a deputy director in the Gauteng department of community safety and chairman of the Gauteng Government Property Dwellers' Association, is one of thousands of public servants who have been living in state-owned properties without paying market-related rents.They now face eviction as the Gauteng department of infrastructure development audits the properties the province owns. This includes identifying those who live or work in them, and establishing how much rent they pay .For many years provincial government employees have lived in properties owned by their employer, paying between R900 and R1500 a month in rent, excluding services.Ernst & Young Consortium, which will conduct the audit, will advise the department on how best its assets can be managed.In May 2013, the department could account for only 9800 of the 29000 buildings in its property portfolio.So far the auditors have traced 750 properties ... Of these, only 150 are leased.These properties include schools, commercial premises, houses, rooms and flats in places such as Bryanston, Tulisa Park, Boksburg, Benoni, Springs, Alberton, Heidelberg, Vereeniging, Meyerton, Westonaria, Krugersdorp and Rooihuiskraal.On Saturday, the Gauteng government's portfolio committee on infrastructure development met to consider submissions by the public - including tenants - on how to manage the properties.Tenants complained that the houses were not properly maintained and that they had had to spend their own money to maintain them.Moremane, who has lived in the Pretoria property for 18 years, said he had been served with an eviction notice despite having borne the burden of the maintenance of the property."They are saying it is either we pay market-related rents or we go. It will just fuel the problem .... We are not illegal occupants of these properties," said Moremane.He said the province was not in a position to maintain the properties and suggested that it sell them.Managing assets has been a thorny issue for both the provincial and the national government.Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has instituted an audit of central government properties and all lease agreements are to be reviewed.The audit report is due this month...

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