Shoddy work turns 'dream' RDP homes into a nightmare for Savanna City residents

Residents of Savanna City, in the south of Johannesburg, said that they had been made to live in these poorly built homes, some with caved-in ceilings or no electricity, for more than three years.

A screengrab of the RDP homes in Savanna City. Picture: Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Poorly built RDP houses remain a problem for thousands of people.

Residents of Savanna City, in the south of Johannesburg, said that they have lived in these poorly built homes, some with caved-in ceilings or no electricity, for more than three years.

They said that officials have been sending them from pillar to post since 2020.

Eyewitness News previously reported on the poor living conditions of Boitumelo residents whose waterlogged homes had raw sewage seeping through the floors and walls, posing a health and environmental hazard to the community.

READ: Living in filth part 1: The health hazard that is Emfuleni's Boitumelo township

An engineering report commissioned by the Emfuleni Municipality recommended the immediate relocation of residents.

But residents said that they’d moved from one bad place to another.

Ndaba Moremoholo said that when he moved to Savanna City from Boitumelo in 2019, he was hopeful that he would finally live in his dream home but this was not the case.

Visible watermarks along his kitchen wall, the poor design and workmanship has resulted in leaks all over the house.

"These houses are rotting just like those other ones. The water flows to the front one side and eats away the plastering – it's rotting all over the floor."

Moremoholo flips the light switch on and off; load shedding doesn’t bother him because he’s never had electricity but he feels the impact in his pocket and, he says, in his chest too.

"I can’t buy meat in bulk – I can’t store it in the fridge. Every day I have to buy one tray and if I don’t have money, sleep on an empty stomach. I have never used paraffin in my life but I've had to in the three years that I have been living here and I can feel it's affecting my chest."

Savanna City resident Seipati Khoza says the shoddy workmanship of the RDP house she lives in with six of her family members puts them in constant danger after a ceiling board in their living room collapsed last year.

Khoza said that every time it rained, water leaked into the ceiling and eventually the structure gave in.

The residents handed over their memorandum of demands to the Midvaal local municipality and have given the mayor 14 days to respond to their complaints, which they said had been ignored for years.

The 59-year-old Khoza is one of several residents in the area who’ve complained about structural defects in the homes while also saying that some residents had never had electricity or geysers since they were given the keys to their houses in 2019.

Khoza said that she was startled by loud screams and when she ran out of her bedroom to check, she found that it was her daughter and that a portion of the ceiling had fallen on the living room floor.

"My daughter was sweeping the floor, it almost fell on her. Thankfully she had already moved when it came down."

Khoza said that she reported the incident to officials last year but was told that she must fix it herself. She pointed to the metre-wide hole in her ceiling, the hanging ceiling board in her bedroom and other cracks along the wall.

She believes it’s due to the poor design of the slanted roofs, made worse by the poor workmanship.

"They have to come fix the tile on the roof so the water doesn’t come in because now when it rains, it leaks along the ceiling. Even the people I got to try fix this quoted me R600. Where will i get it? I don’t work and live off the children’s grants."

Khoza has pleaded with officials to intervene before someone, especially her young grandchildren, gets seriously hurt.

WATCH: From one bad place to another: No change for former Sebokeng residents

Savanna City residents say they are prepared to try all avenues to force government to ensure they get electricity and that the defects in their RDP homes are fixed.

Community members marched to the Midvaal municipal offices where they called for mayor Peter Teixeira's intervention in the three-year battle to have their complaints resolved.

Savanna City community leader Mangaliso Petse said they had not had any joy since occupying their RDP homes in 2019 despite knocking on every door.

"We've been trying to communicate about these problems through the developer, the project manager, municipality representative, the provincial government... we are complaining about housing defects that we inherited since we occupied the houses. There are monies that have been spent to say we built these houses for you but at the end of the day, the standard is not according to what it should be."

Eyewitness News has seen correspondence from Petse in September 2020 where the developer from construction company Basil Read, Dumisani Zitha, is among the recipients. In it, residents give a list of house numbers where there are defects.

However, when asked, Zitha acknowledged there had been complaints in the past but claims they’d all been resolved, adding that they were currently working with the Department of Human Settlements to address the latest claims.

Petse led a group of community members to the Midvaal municipal offices a few days ago, where they demanded a fair and transparent housing allocation process.

Their memorandum was received by the chief of staff in the mayor's office, Moipone Molotlhanye.

"I will make sure that it is escalated to the relevant structures in the organisation," he said.

Meanwhile, when approached for answers, developer Basil Read said it would investigate the complaints and would work with the Department of Human Settlements.