Neglected and vandalised Dube Hostel the centre of ownership blame game

12 September 2017 - 18:09 By Penwell Dlamini
Paul Mashatile. File photo,
Paul Mashatile. File photo,
Image: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

The City of Johannesburg has refuted the views of the Gauteng Human Settlement MEC Paul Mashatile‚ who put the blame on the council for the vandalised Dube Hostel housing development.

In a response from Joburg mayor’s office‚ the City said it had historically been providing basic services such as water‚ sanitation‚ electricity and refuse collection in the hostel.

“The City continues to provide these services on the site. In 2008 the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (GDHS) initiated a new housing project in a bid to revitalise a number of hostels in the province‚ Dube Hostel being one of the identified hostels to undergo revitalisation through the development of additional units.

“Construction kicked off in 2009 where close to 230 family units were built. At all material times‚ the programme was and continues to be run and administered by the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (GDHS) and not by the City’s Housing Department.

“For a period of about two years prior to the 2016 local government elections‚ some residents decided to loot the GDHS’s incomplete flats … The comments from the MEC’s office are thus extremely unfortunate. We would request that the MEC clarifies the position with members of his administration.

“As matters stand stands‚ the City only entered talks with the GDHS on the possibility of handing the incomplete Dube flats over to the City as to finally complete the project and address the housing needs of the Soweto community‚” the city said in its response.

Earlier on Tuesday‚ Mashatile put the blame of the vandalised Dube Hostel in Soweto on the City of Johannesburg.

The department’s spokesperson‚ Keith Khoza‚ said that provincial government had handed the Dube Hostel to the City of Johannesburg‚ in line with the mandate to hand over hostels to municipalities.

“We transferred the hostel to the City of Johannesburg. What we will do as the province is to assist them to rebuild the place and allocate to beneficiaries‚” said Khoza.

Khoza said that Dube Hostel was the responsibility of the City of Johannesburg and the current state of the hostel should have been addressed long ago by the City.

He said it was astonishing how they shifted responsibility whenever they were out of their depth.

“The City of Johannesburg was supposed to fix and allocate the units to the hostel dwellers but they failed to secure the funding to renovate the hostel and later hit a backlog. As a result nothing has been done to date‚” said Khoza.

The province spent R95-million building the low-cost housing units adjacent to the Dube Hostel in Soweto.

But hostel dwellers refused to move in‚ saying they could not afford to pay for the services and refused to allow other qualifying beneficiaries to move in.

The project then deteriorated into a nightmare for the residents living in and around the development.

Guards who protected the new development left the area after there were issues about their payment. Then vandalism began and it got worse by the day.

Police in Soweto confirmed last year that people were being mugged in the deserted units and sometimes dead bodies would be found there.

On Monday‚ TimesLIVE visited the project and it looked like a war zone. All the roofs of the houses have been ripped off‚ along with steel fixtures. Only the walls remain in what was once a “state of the art” development. Underground pipes have also been completely dug out.

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