Huge Soweto housing project under way
26 August 2010
South Africa has embarked on one of its biggest mixed housing developments yet. Once complete, Lufhereng in Soweto will comprise 24 000 mixed-income houses, with schools, clinics, sports fields and recreational facilities making up a complete, sustainable community.
Part of the western extension of Soweto, the Lufhereng Integrated Housing Development project was launched on Tuesday, 17 August by Joburg Executive Mayor Amos Masondo.
Lufhereng was conceived and initiated by the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Local Government and Housing Department as a large-scale, mixed-income, mixed-type and mixed-tenure housing development.
The project will include a significant component of urban agriculture, through small-scale intensive urban agriculture open-field plots, hydroponic farming units and fish breeding schemes.
The name Lufhereng is derived from a Venda word and a Sesotho word, "lufhera" and "reng", respectively. The combined word refers to a place where people come together with a united commitment.
In the first and second phases of the project, 2 223 freehold stands will be delivered, from which 1 192 have been earmarked for subsidised housing, while close to 1 000 units will be turned into RDP houses.
Three categories of communities have been identified for allocation of houses in Lufhereng:
- The 3 200 Protea South residents;
- People on the Soweto 1996/97 waiting list; and
- The Doornkop farming community.
Tackling the backlog
Speaking at the project launch, Human Settlements Miniser Tokyo Sexwale that although South Africa had a backlog of more than 2.1-million houses, "we are addressing the matter. As we speak we have asked for an increase from the R18-billion set aside by the National Treasury."
Although there have been a series of protests over housing backlogs, Sexwale urged people to work with the government to make sure there was no corruption in the housing department, by not paying unwarranted amounts of money to get an RDP house.
Joburg Mayor Masondo also spoke of this, saying: "The demand for housing remains high, but we continue to strive for and remain committed to the creation of sustainable human settlements and communities."
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane emphasised the responsibilities of housing beneficiaries, saying that people "should remember that they have no right to sell the houses given to them. We are here to build a new community, the community of Lufhereng."
As of 7 August this year, 907 Lufhereng houses had already been handed over to beneficiaries, Masondo said.
Lufhereng's launch coincided with the handover of a further seven houses to beneficiaries, the oldest being 79 and the youngest being 38. Four of them had been on the housing waiting list for 14 years, while three had been waiting since 2008.
One of them, Itumeleng Malebo, was a former farm labourer on the plot on which Lufhereng is built. "We were given first preference of acquiring homes here, so I'm delighted," Malebo said. "I've lived and worked on the farm since 1991 ... I run a small spaza shop from the house so I can earn a living, as I'm unemployed."
Another person who was given the keys to her new home, Nomasiza Mpeqeka, a 75-year-old pensioner, has been on the housing waiting list since 1996.
"I live with two of my grandchildren and I'm glad that they now have a place they call home," Mpeqeka said. "I used to live in a backroom in Meadowlands for years, but now I have a place I can call my home."
Source: City of Johannesburg