Thursday, February 21, 2013

Department of Human Settlements Welcomes Public Protector's Report

The Department of Human Settlements notes and welcomes the observations made by the South African Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements this morning.

The two presentations dealt with matters relating to the delivery of human settlements as the department strives to achieve its vision. These relate to issues of housing allocation lists, corruption, defective houses, provision of basic services, title deeds, amongst others.

Director-General in the Department of Human Settlements Thabane Zulu told the committee that it was not a mistake to change the mandate of the department from just dealing with the provision of housing to human settlements in 2009.

"The issues raised talk to our mandate in terms of the delivery model. Our turn-around strategy talks to houses being closer to work, education, and health facilities. Gone are the days when housing development projects can take place far away from social and economic amenities," said Zulu.

The department would soon be implementation its housing rectification programme to deal with defective houses built from 2002. Contractors who were responsible for this shoddy workmanship are currently being prosecuted and public monies being recovered.

Housing contracts worth R20 billion have been identified for investigation by the Special Investigating Unit at the request of the Department of Human Settlements in terms of the Presidential Proclamation of 2007.

A total of 59 housing contracts worth R4 billion have already been investigated and finalized. These relate to the payment of contractors for incomplete and poorly constructed houses.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is currently conducting 13 criminal investigations on this matter

Potential public funds recoverable on this category of an investigation amount to R101 million.

On the issue of public servants from various national, provincial and local municipalities who fraudulently benefited from government housing programme, the department revealed that 1 061 such officials were prosecuted between 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years.

A total of 1 002 of these officials were convicted.

And R17,9 million recovered.

The Director-General informed the Portfolio Committee that from the next financial year, no provincial business plans would be approved without bulk services.

Zulu said the department would be working very close with the Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector to make sure the two institutions were kept abreast of developments.

"We want to inculcate the culture of human rights in as far as human settlements is concerned. I can confirm that most of the issues raised are on the implementation side and the soon to be established Project Management Unit will ensure that the quality is not compromised," he said.

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