The Johannesburg Social Housing Company stands accused of reneging on a rent-to-buy agreement.

The City of Johannesburg has until August 25 to respond to the demands of social housing recipients from Tshedzani flats in Roodepoort. About 50 residents travelled to the council chambers in Braamfontein on Thursday, August 11, to hand over a memorandum after failed talks with the City’s housing stakeholders. 

 The residents are demanding an urgent summit to address social housing schemes, an end to eviction notices and ownership of the Tshedzani flats. They have threatened to occupy the City’s open spaces and execute a nationwide strike, should their demands not be met.  

Upon receiving the memorandum of demands, director of communications in the mayoral office, Mabine Seabe, requested an extension for the response time from the seven days set out by residents, to 14 days.  

A protester holds a placard outside the council chambers in Braamfontein. Photo: Keamogetswe Matlala

The Johannesburg Social Housing Company (JoshCo) and the residents have been at loggerheads since 2008 after the company allegedly promised residents title deeds after four years of uninterrupted occupation of the units. JoshCo spokesperson Nthabiseng Mphela said this “misunderstanding” was resolved in 2009 by the South Gauteng High Court, when it dismissed the residents’ application to claim permanent ownership of the flats. 

“Social housing units are not meant for permanent occupation but rather an intervening measure to address housing backlog through rental stock.” Mphela added that tenants who are interested in ownership should apply for other government housing subsidy projects such as the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme or Reconstruction and Development Programme.

The residents took to the streets of the Roodepoort CBD on August 11, to protest against eviction notices from JoshCo for residents who are in arrears of rental payments, some since 2019. After Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department officers dispersed them, they took taxis to the office of Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse to hand over their memorandum.

Prior to the protest, the residents and the housing company met in the first week of August “to discuss the fact that there were no rental payments for the past three years because we boycotted it”, said community representative and protest leader, Voneen Trompeter. To the residents’ dissatisfaction, JoshcCo remained adamant on evicting residents who were in arrears.

Trompeter said she had been living at the flats for over 10 years, paying rent until 2019. Another resident who said she had lived at Tshedzani for 14 years, told Wits Vuvuzela that she could not keep up with payments due to job loss. “We have paid over R600 000 over the years. The structure is not worth a R100 000. How do I carry on paying like a bond in a social housing environment?”

A 48-year-old Tshedzani flats resident shows injuries she says she had sustained at the hands of police earlier. Photo: Keamogetswe Matlala

Among the frustrated crowd of mostly women outside the council chambers were several residents who had battled law enforcement in the early hours of Thursday morning. A 48-year-old woman, who also wanted to remain anonymous due to employment purposes, said she wanted to see the protest through for the sake of her two children. “I am fighting for my kids, I am fighting for my rights because [if] tomorrow I’m going to die, where are my kids going to stay?” 

JoshCo was scheduled to meet with the residents of all four phases of the Tshedzani community on Saturday, August 13.

FEATURED IMAGE: Female residents of the Tshedzani flats have been leading the fight to be granted title deeds for the social housing flats they have been renting, some for as long as 14 years. Photo: Keamogetswe Matlala