SA told get its housing in order

SA told get its housing in order

April 25 2007 at 04:43AM

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

South Africa is likely to receive a damning report from the United Nations’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, Miloon Kothari, when he ends his tour of the country on Thursday.

On Tuesday Kothari said that although South Africa’s legislation was good and the right to housing was recognised in the constitution, implementation was “very weak” and there was a lack of co-ordination between departments.

He described the situation as “a mixed result”.

Kothari is investigating the state of housing in different countries, access to water and electricity, sanitation, land rights, forced evictions and displacement because of development and disasters.

He said interim sanitation measures were necessary in South Africa, because many people still lived in informal settlements and needed access to such facilities while they waited for housing.

In some areas he had visited in the past few days people were digging holes in their backyard to bury their waste, Kothari said.

He felt people were living in “emergency kinds of situations” because in some cities 40 percent to 50 percent of informal settlements were not serviced.

Kothari was also “disturbed” by the lack of “post-settlement” support available to South Africans who had just received RDP houses or who had benefited from land restitution.

He said the “common trend” was that very little support was given to communities after their land or houses were handed over and that, in most cases, the structures which were built were inadequate, foundations were poor and the walls were cracking.

“A lot of work is necessary to build communities, not just houses,”
Kothari said.

He said many people also continued to be evicted from their homes or farms, often without a court order, which in itself was disturbing.

Kothari said that in his final report he would also highlight the growing trend of installing pre-payment meters for water and electricity in places like Johannesburg.

He said this privatisation compromised people’s human rights.

originally: Pretoria News April 25, page 6