It was a march demanding the company’s director ends his relationship with the eMalahleni Housing Company.
A law firm accused of being at the centre of the housing crisis in the eMalahleni area has distanced itself from the alleged looting spree taking place at the eMalahleni Housing Company.
The Neuhoff Khoza Attorneys in Model Park suburb, east of town said they know nothing of corruption taking place at the public institution and that director Desmond Khoza told them that the housing company is being run “in an open and transparent manner”.
Khoza is a board member at the controversial eMalahleni Housing Company.
The eMalahleni Housing Company, a supposed government rent collecting agent, is led by embattled CEO George Xaba, whom the residents accuse of being opposed to the area being a “rent to buy” settlement because he wants to continue “enriching himself” from the R3.7 million that is collected monthly from the tenants.
Other than the embattled Xaba, the public company has six board members, including Hezel Zitha from the provincial human settlement department, Cosatu leader Thabo Mokoena and Khoza who is allegedly representing the Law Society.
Khoza has been serving on the eMalahleni Housing Company board since 2012.
Neuhoff Khoza Attorneys’ director Desmond Khoza.
In their memorandum of demand, the marchers said that the law firm “is the very same one that was paid the money to do the transfer of the very same land” to developer Themba Sgudla and then at the same time legally advised the eMalahleni Housing Company to oppose the transfer in court.
“This is prima facie evidence that this law firm is corrupt and complicit in grand corruption and stealing from the poor,” the memorandum reads.
“This law firm is the one enabling the corrupt individuals who call themselves a board of directors to continue to steal from the poor and enrich themselves from the suffering of the people of eMalahleni, who so desperately need shelter for their families,” it said.
Themba Sgudla and Bhuti Mamba addressing the marchers outside the Neuhoff Khoza Attorneys office in Model Park Thursday mid-day this week. PIC 013NEWS/ZK.
The marchers in their demands want Khoza to resign from the eMalahleni Housing Company board within a space of 24 hours and they also want the law firm to take “visible and tangible action” against Khoza “in the form of him being relieved from his position as partner in the firm”.
Marchers also vowed to picket outside the Chicken Licken franchises that the law firm owns across the eMalahleni area and even take the extra mile of going to the Bar of Attorneys “to demand that the firm and all its directors be struck of the Bar”.
But Henri Neuhoff, another law firm director, distanced the firm from the allegations.
He said Khoza has denied the allegations when they spoke to him and “firmly maintains that the affairs of the eMalahleni Housing Company are conducted in an open and transparent manner, and more specifically so for the benefit of the community”.
He said that he could not be in office on Thursday mid-day to receive the memorandum from the marchers as he was in Tshwane and didn’t “want to be involved in altercation”.
“I was away because I was busy in Pretoria and also I don’t want to be involved in the altercation of Khoza and the people,” he said when he spoke to the 013NEWS reporter Friday morning.
He had called the meeting with the Dingindoda tenants to explain to them the issue of making them pay rent.
EMalahleni housing company boss George Xaba has had a community meeting he called to address fuming Dingindoda residents collapse on Tuesday this week.
Xaba, who has a string of allegations levelled against him, including being accused of using the government rent collecting agent to “enrich himself”, called the heated meeting after rival Themba Sgudla and activist Bhuti Mamba had told the same Dingindoda residents on Thursday a week ago that Xaba was a “bogus man” trying to enrich himself at their expense.
This week Tuesday Xaba tried to stand in front of the angry residents who demand that the area must be “rent-to-buy” homes instead of “renting forever” and explained that it was government who wanted them to rent forever and that the residents “should not listen to other people who tell them to do illegal things”.
He said these were not RDP houses and was prepared to prove through documents that he was not “stealing the money” and was there through the approval of the provincial government.
Xaba said he had already spoken to Premier Refilwe Mtshweni and human settlement MEC Norah Mahlangu as well as ANC regional leader Speedy Mashilo about the people who want the residents to own the homes than rent.
“We are calling this meeting after everything has been said,” the sweating Xaba said while on stage.
“All these things or allegations leveled against us are wrong,” the sweating Xaba said while standing on stage at the Ilanga secondary school hall inside the Dingindoda rental settlement.
Formally known as uThingo Park, the Dingindoda rental area in eMalahleni.
“And what we are going to do as time goes by, we are going to prove it to you that they are all wrong,” Xaba said.
But Xaba then faced a storm when the residents began asking him hard questions. They accused him of only coming to speak to them now that the call for the Dingindoda rental settlement – to be given to tenants for ownership was being made – and that he was opposed to this call because he wanted to benefit from the rent they pay.
One by one the tenants slammed him for “disrespecting” them and being “dishonest” to them, accusing him of collecting rent that he claims is used to maintain the area through the public institution called “eMalahleni Housing Company”.
One of the residents asking questions during George Xaba’s meeting. PIC 013NEWS/MLM.
Xaba is accused of collecting R43 million yearly since 2008 using the non-profit company to enrich himself and not maintaining the dilapidating settlement – at poor working class’ expense – also, of making the people pay higher costs to those generally approved by a social housing authority.
He is also accused of diverting the money to buy guesthouses across the eMahlelani area and “cruelly” kicking out those who are not able to pay rent at the Dingindoda low cost homes, once they have lost employment.
The tenants now will no longer pay rent until 1 January 2019 when developer Sgudla is expected to give them the homes to own and stop “renting forever”.
But Xaba has vowed that those who listened to Sgudla and don’t pay rent will leave him with no choice but to evict them, in terms of the Rental Act of 1997 .
“Uthingo Park is a social housing or affordable rental housing project and not a low cost housing project where beneficiaries enjoy ownership,” Xaba said.
“The perception that is being created that the units can be handed over to people for ownership is far from the truth,” he said.
But while Xaba was on stage, the meeting degenerated into chaos when activist Bhuti Mamba entered the fully packed Dingindoda hall to thunderous applause from the desperate tenants who began booing Xaba and singing ‘Zizojika Izinto’ in welcoming Mamba to the hall.
The Dingindoda issue is described as a symptom of the housing problem in the eMalahleni area.
Mamba took the microphone from the rattled and sweating Xaba and slammed the “abusing of the people of eMalahleni” by those who are from the area.
He said that Sgudla owned the area and there was no way that the people of eMalahleni could be expected to “rent forever” to Xaba while Sgudla wanted to hand over the homes to them for ownership. He said those who were refusing this would face the wrath of the community.
Buthi Mamba. PIC 013NEWS/ZK.
“Comrades, we have been abused for too long,” Mamba said to thunderous applause.
“Here I have documents proving that Sgudla is the owner of the area and has the right to give title deeds to you and nobody else. Anyone who wants these documents (a deed of transfer and a land availability agreement) they are available. Here are the copies. Come take it and also I do not think that this meeting should continue without Sgudla” Mamba said.
“Xaba should not tell us a half-baked story, we want both Sgudla and Xaba here in order for us to get the whole story,” Mamba said to rapturous applause.
Later on, Sgudla told the 013NEWS reporter over the phone that Xaba was actually a “front” and there was actually “a real board behind the bogus board”.
“I’m going to unmask all these people. Watch this space,” he said.
“Step by step. These are corrupt powerful individuals who Xaba works for and who are using Cosatu, the Law Society and a housing regulating body to make themselves filthy rich at the expense of poor and vulnerable working class people. That is why Xaba told those residents that he is reporting this to Refilwe Mtshweni and Speedy Mashilo.
“And that is why thousands of people tomorrow will be marching to the Neuhoff Khoza Attorneys to expose one of the law firm’s directors who is also part of the bogus and corrupt board that Xaba leads and is taking from vulnerable people,” Sgudla said.
On Tuesday afternoon this week, Sgudla told the eMalahleni radio station that some of these “corrupt people” were his co-shareholders at the Highveld Mall and that Xaba was the “last apple” he was going to deal with.
“People must not be nervous. We have the documents that give us the right that people cannot rent forever,” Sgudla said on the local radio station.
“We are protecting them against corrupt individuals, the bogus board led by Mr Xaba and we are here to unmask people and free the community from the corruption of these people,” Sgudla said.
The tenants want to go to war in order to get the homes to be rent-to-buy homes rather than “renting forever”.
EMalahleni Housing Company head George Xaba is being accused of turning people’s plight into a “money-making scheme”.
The residents of Dingindoda in eMalahleni are vowing they will fight Xaba and the eMalahleni housing company until the homes are no longer rental homes but “rent-to-buy homes.”
Dingindoda residents during the meeting
They say initially when the houses were being constructed they were told that they would be low cost rent-to-buy homes but through political and corrupt means the Dingindoda area was turned into “a money-making scheme” by the powerfuls.
The residents now are planning a march to voice out against this and they say they will no longer pay rent to the eMalahleni housing company until 1 January 2019 when the issue of the area being rent-to-buy homes is resolved.
Formally known as uThingo Park, the Dingindoda rental area in eMalahleni.
Another resident told 013NEWS that she has seen a lot of people being kicked out of the government area when they fail to pay rent, especially when they lost their jobs. “It is unfair this thing that is happening here, we are sick and tired of it,” she said.
They say the eMalahleni housing company, a government rent collecting agent, is the company evicting them from their homes and is being led by “cruel people”.
On Thursday last week, both the area’s developer Themba Sgudla and local activist Bhuti Mamba addressed a fully packed hall inside the Dingindoda area and told the residents that when they die their children will suffer because they will be kicked out once nobody was able to pay rent.
They told them that the public company is collecting over R3.7 million every month and all the money goes to Xaba and the other board members “who share it among themselves” and were using a public institution to get filthy rich at the expense of poor working class people.
“For how long are you going to rent in your own area? You are the people of eMalahleni and your are being put in Egypt by people who are not from the eMalahleni area,” Sgudla said to thunderous applause.
He told the residents that the reason nobody wanted the area to be rent-and-buy homes was because of the money that they make from it, making the lives of people earning between R4 000 and R16 000 “a misery”.
He accused the company’s board of being a “self-appointed bogus board” and that there was a real board behind it that exists and were going to war in order to “unmask it”.
“Some criminals want you to rent because it makes them filthy rich at your expense and they do not care whether you lose jobs and no longer able to pay, because they will be able to kick you out of the area just like that and we are here to help you move out of the situation,” he said, adding he was encouraged by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina call, “that I wanna be there when people start to turn things around” for themselves and for the better.
“I know most of you here no longer work for yourself but for your children,” Sgudla said, “what will then happen to your children if you loose your job or die and not able to pay? They will be kicked out.
“From today please go to the bank and tell them to stop these people from deducting money from your account. That is your account and nobody should take money from it and if we find out that you continue to pay to these people you will regret,” Sgudla told the residents.
Bhuti Mamba (L) and Themba Masofa Sgudla (R).
They say those who will continue to pay rent will get evicted from the area by the other tenants who are also fed up of “renting forever” and was challenging Xaba to come evict those who didn’t pay rent and will see “how people start to turn things around” when they are faced with a difficult situation.
Asked for comment, Xaba said he would call a press briefing and explain everything to journalists.
He said everything that the community were being told was nonsense and is going to provide all documents to journalists as where the money goes.
He added the R 3.7 million that they monthly collect doesn’t go to the government but they as board members of the eMalahleni company use it “to invest back into the area”, maintaining the area.
“I have all the documents to prove how the money is spent. We pay security, we have put tarred roads in the area. We created 50 jobs and we pay salaries, not that we enrich ourselves from the money,” Xaba said, adding that those who wanted the area to be rent-to-buy homes confusing RDPs with CRU (community rental units) and they were given the mandate to collect rent by government in order to maintain the area.
He said the meeting will be important moving forward as it will have the Holy spirit ‘revealing itself’ and ‘guiding’ everybody on how to solve current challenges.
PRET President Themba ‘Masofa’ Sgudla is consulting with spiritual leaders in order to hold a very big prayer session on the Thursday morning of 18 October 2018.
The event will take place at the eMalahleni Roman Catholic church in Ackerville and will be held to ask God to intervene and “guide the way” as the Mpumalanga ANC prepares for a provincial general council.
Sgudla said a similar meeting was held in late 2016, where they gathered at the same church praying for peace, unity and prosperity of the ANC and people of the province
He said the fact that the Mpumalanga ANC failed numerous times to have the much-talked about PGC was a sign that such “cannot be guided by the flesh and blood” but needed the Holy spirit.
“What is important is the Unity which is going to take us as a province somewhere,” he said when he spoke to the 013NEWS reporter over the phone.
“Without that Unity the ANC will be deprived of good planning and good planning which is important in bettering our lives as a people under its rule,” he said.
“You need that Unity and also that Holy spirit to reveal in us who amongst all the contestants is suitable to take us to the promised land and once that has happened we will be humbled by the results,” Sgudla said on Sunday evening.
The ANC in the Mpumalanga province is battling to hold the special PGC to fill vacant seats left when then provincial leader DD Mabuza got elected deputy president on 18 December 2017.
Also Violet Siwela, a former provincial deputy chairwoman and Candith Mashego-Dlamini, a PEC member, also left with Mabuza to serve as NEC members on that day.
Mandla Ndlovu, Peter Nyoni, Fish Mahlalela, Mandla Msibi and David Dube are amongst those gunning for the Mpumalanga hot seat.
The province was supposed to hold a PGC on the weekend of 15 September 2018 but could not and sources said they were affected by the “re-aligning of branches” by national secretary Ace Magashule and would now have the meeting soon.
In a statement released Monday this week, Sgudla said he was inviting all the contestants to the prayer session, including Vusi Shongwe who is rumoured to be also having interests in becoming the Mpumalanga ANC chair.
“We must all pray for unity in our beloved province of Mpumalanga,” he said in the statement.
“If we all understand unity to be paramount then it should be our understanding that the Holy Spirit will deliver one candidate to lead the ANC and all of us must be able to unite behind this individual,” the President said.
“However, if no such a candidate exists then a Provincial Task Team (PTT) that will lead us towards a decisive victory at the 2019 elections and a provincial conference thereafter may be the answer to our prayers,” he said.
He said the December 2016 prayer meeting at Ackerville’s Millenium Hall was able to determine what kind of a united leadership the Holy Spirit wanted and that “it was not by blood and flesh that Mabuza” got elected the deputy president but through the prayers of those community members who gathered.
He says the day for people to ‘take charge of their own destiny has been revealed to the people themselves’.
Thousands of people who are affected by the housing backlog in the eMalahleni area will not have to worry as eMalahleni businessman Themba Sgudla vows to meet government halfway in sorting out the issue.
Sgudla, popularly known as ‘Masofa’ or ‘Somahhashi’, launched his ‘Thuma Mina housing project’ at the Ackerville stadium, attracting scores and scores of people while declaring he would now compete with government in meeting the needs of poor people, saying without local businessmen doing so the society “will remain the same”.
He said he was particularly concerned that a lot of people in the eMalahleni area continue to live in backyard rooms without homes of their own.
Sgudla addressed a fully packed Ackerville stadium and said that seeing so many people attending his Thuma Mina housing project “signifies the crisis that you people of eMalahleni are faced with”.
“If we don’t start to turn it around now, our lives will remain the same,” the businessman told the crowds.
Over 9000 people attended the launch of Sgudla’s Thuma Mina housing project.
The Thuma Mina housing project will first begin by the launch of a community online database system called ‘Thuma Mina Human Settlement System”. Then he will begin building the houses “based on the demands” from his own pocket.
“We are opening a Thuma Mina housing project office in Klipfontein,” he said, “they are busy renovating it. We have suffered enough in this area and now it’s time to do it on our own without relying on government. I will build the houses from my own pocket for you to rent and buy. We have already bought the land. We want thousands and thousands of units for poor people to occupy in this area,” he said at the stadium.
At the stadium, Sgudla was a real crowd puller, touching issues that got the crowds going crazy.
“Comrades,” he said to rapturous applause, “we are here to launch the Thuma Mina housing project”.
“A project that will deliver houses to you because as a businessman I have seen that it will not help me to eat my money alone,” he said at the stadium.
“I will share it with you because when I’m dead my money will be eaten by criminals who won’t take care of you,” he said.
“You are my only hope and I will share my money with you because when I’m dead you are the ones who are going to bury me and you are the ones who will take care of my children,” the PRET President said.
“My job is to do what President Cyril Ramaphosa says we must do, thuma mina, I wanna be there when things start to turn around,” he said.
Sgudla told the crowds that there was a real problem with the housing system of Mpumalanga.
He said the government built homes without knowing who exactly needed to benefit from the homes and those homes ended up being occupied by “criminals who are not even in need of houses”.
He said the online ‘Thuma Mina Human Settlement System’ that he was busy developing at a cost of R1.5 million will allow poor people to apply for homes on their cellphones and they will get an sms reply saying “approved!”
He said it will be unlike the current situation where people relied on a ward councillor to get feedback on whether they would get their homes or not.
He told the crowds that the homes for the poor earning less than R16 000 and above R4 000 every month will be built in Spring Valley, Siyanqoba, Tasbet Park and Dhuva Park and these people will rent to buy – and within 10 years “you should own the house”.
He said he bought the whole land with millions and millions of rands to dedicate it to this specific project.
Sgudla said people who live in Dingindoda, a government low-cost rental settlement in the Tasbet Park area, will have to be forced out of the homes and be replaced with poor people.
Sgudla is not quite popular amongst other property owners because of his housing projects turning the Tasbet Park suburb into a township, depreciating the values of the houses in the area.
He said that he spoke to George Xaba, the CEO of eMalahleni housing company, and told him about the Dingindoda issue, that “those who can afford but are living in poor people’s houses must leave!”
“You are going to occupy those houses,” he told the residents, before taking a swipe at foreign nationals for turning the eMalahleni CBD into “something that we don’t know what it is”.
“I’m not xenophobic but I’m concerned that those people own homes here while you don’t and they use our sisters, they sell drugs, they destroy our area, we must attend to the issue urgently comrades,” he said, provoking thunderous applause from the crowds who then began singing struggle songs.