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Massive Gugulethu housing project for families evicted under Group Areas act dead in the water

Massive Gugulethu housing project for families evicted under Group Areas act dead in the water
Only 23 units out of 570 in the Gugulethu housing project launched in 2018 have been completed. (Photo: Siphokazi Vuso)

Successive failure of construction companies leaves families waiting.

In 2017, the City of Cape Town set aside R105-million to build more than 570 homes for families who had been evicted under the Group Areas Act and moved to Gugulethu. More than five years later, only 23 houses have been completed.

Three companies, Ghika Construction, Simply Do Construction and Masikhule Projects, were appointed in 2018, to build the units, according to Western Cape Department of Infrastructure spokesperson Jandré Bakker.

The project is known as the “Gugulethu erf 8448 housing project”.

Simply Do started construction in August 2019. Gikha started construction in October 2019. Masikhule started in June 2020.

Construction was expected to take 11 months.

But the project has been bedevilled by the failure of one contractor after another and by the Covid lockdown. Gikha and Simply Do completed no units at all; Masikhule built 27 units but these were incomplete and “several defects and snags were identified”, said Bakker.

Masikhule and Simply Do had ceded their contracts to Boon Africa, which approached the department in July 2023, said Bakker. Boon Africa had committed to complete the 27 units built by Masikhule and to build more units. But by the end of October Boon Africa had failed to meet its commitments, he said.

A new contractor would now be appointed by the City of Cape Town, Bakker said.

When approached by GroundUp, Boon Africa Construction Director Collen Matimba said that the contract had been abruptly terminated before the company could complete the work. He did not say why it had taken so long to build the houses. We could not reach the other companies except for Masikhule who referred us to Boon.

Mayco Member for Human Settlements Carl Pophaim said Ghika Construction and Simply Do Construction had abandoned the site in 2020 and their contracts had been terminated. “The contractors’ major challenge was their limited capacity and ability to effectively execute the works,” he said.

Masikhule Projects remained on the site but when it failed to meet targets its contract was terminated in July last year.

Gugulethu Ward 39 councillor Thembinkosi Mjuza said families were demanding answers.

“The development has been facing challenges since it started.“ He said some beneficiaries had died while waiting for their houses.

Housing beneficiary Sabelo Jele, who has been on the housing waiting list for 30 years, said they were losing hope.

“I submitted my application for a house on 16 August 1993. I have been waiting for 30 years. When the project started we were very hopeful that our lives would change. But all we’ve got are empty promises from the City.”

Gugulethu

Sabelo Jele says he is losing hope that his house will ever be finished. (Photo: Siphokazi Vuso)

Ncedeka Mgwele said her husband Thulani Stokwe died waiting for his home. “It was his dream to move the family into a home that is his own. But because of all the delays, he died before he could see that dream,” she said.

Gugulethu Uprising secretary and community activist Marc Matebe said the City had failed the families. We are calling on the City of Cape Town to ensure that the houses are complete by June, ” he said.

Pophaim said a new contractor would start work on the site this month, with the goal of completing the project within 24 months. The families would be kept informed, he said. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    DM really showing it’s allegiance to the anc these days! Why not mention all of the successful projects COCT has completed and handed over?

    • Kenneth Arundel says:

      Please read the article again. No one has taken anything away from the DA.( or shown allegiance to any other party)

    • Andrew Mortimer says:

      Sensitive much? This article is valid reporting on the failure of local government to deliver a project. It also provides the reasons for the failure. It doesnt matter which political party is in control of the local government its important that the press is a watchdog and reports the failures and successes of government local or national.

  • Kyriacos Demetriades says:

    Just appoint a suitable contractor. This BBBEEEE nonsense must stop now. Service delivery is non existent in South Africa.

  • The city of Cape Town has failed us for so many years. I’m also a beneficiary and won’t give up hope. They MUST build our houses,you build for people from other provinces quickly, what about us born in the city.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      I am sorry for your position and I have no doubt the city would like you to have the home you deserve.

      The problem appears very much to do with contractors failing to do what they committed to, and large contracts can get very complicated legally when problems occur, often taking years to resolve as is likely here.

      The city needs to find a contractor with a proven track record of delivery and I am sure your house will come.

      Don’t give up hope!

  • Grant Turnbull says:

    Could the journalist give details on the money paid to the contractors. Were they paid upfront or were they not able to get going on their own funds?
    This may not be a problem similar to the ANC arranged contracts where they overpay the contractor in advance and they run away with that advance payment, usually having to share it with a senior politician or the ANzc themselves. Is that the case here?

  • Samuel Ginsberg says:

    How difficult can it be to get on and do the job? People build houses all the time, why is this such a mess?

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Then why appoint incompetent builders in the first place…..exercise your performance bond, chuck them off the site and sue them for non performance. That’s the way it works in the real world!

    • Amadeus Figaro says:

      I have often wondered whether there are any performance bonds at all in government procurement. The last time I read of a bond was in relation to Eskom and Hitachi aeons ago.

  • Mkili Muzenha says:

    Why did the Devils Alliance not vet if these companies can do the work? Or they got kick backs.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      My brother, why do you call them the devils alliance? Is it that you can’t look beyond race in politics, or is there honestly some way in which you know the DA are worse than the lying, corrupt, thieving ANC who are busy stealing all of our futures?

      If you do, then I would personally be very interested for you to tell me what it is!

  • Speaking From Experience says:

    Did the construction mafia play any role in this failed project?

  • ngiyayithanda i-afrika says:

    I understand the city is trying to do good things here but a budget of R184000 per house seems very light for me( if the images in the article are of the houses in question). I would suggest the city probably needs to do a transparent cost exercise with a couple of contractors where the input costs to each house is laid bare. I’m convinced that this approach would at least point to a more realistic budget amount.

  • Sandra C T Shell says:

    I have a friend living in Gugulethu who registered for an RDP house in 1998. In October 2018 her application for housing was confirmed and approved. She was allocated a specific erf and all looked positive. But she was not one of the fortunate two dozen or so whose houses have been completed. The latest Project Number is W16080001/1 in the CoCT Gugulethu lnfill Plan (Mau-Mau): 1005 T/S IRDP. She has the Erf number where her house will be built but not a single brick has been laid on that site. I trust Mayco Member for Human Settlements, Carl Pophaim, will be true to his word that work on these promised houses will indeed begin without further delay starting this month as indicated above and that the construction “mafia” are prevented from further obstruction. That Mr Sabelo Jele and my friend have had to wait for three decades is unspeakable and I weep.

  • Owen kENSLEY says:

    This sounds like a stuck record. All starts with getting the right people to do the job and less cadre deployment. Track records speak volumes but seem to be bypassed since all this has become a norm . I don’t have all the facts to make this judgement, but damn it sure smells of corruption.

  • Citizen X says:

    Manage it yourselves and give people tools, materials and pay for the labour it will be done quicker.

  • is it the cities responsibility or governments?

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