The man has managed to evict some tenants while having others’ salaries garnished.
A wrangle started late last year by controversial eMalahleni businessman Themba ‘Masofa’ Sgudla to incite Dingindoda tenants to stand up and take the homes from their landlord is now getting quite worse.
A string of court papers have been sent to the tenants who have been refusing to pay rent since last year September.
Now the tenants, who say they are going nowhere, say the court papers being served are a “harassment” and wants to report it to officials at the eMalahleni local municipality.
The Dingindoda rental settlement, formally known as uThingo Park, is situated in the eMalahleni suburb of Tasbet Park and was built more than 15 years ago by government as part of addressing the housing crisis in the coal-mining dominated town of Mpumalanga.
It was built by Sgudla’s company and it has roughly 1 500 units. Later on the constructor and politicians got into a fight, and the homes fell into a non-profit company called Emalahleni Housing Company.
The company’s boss is George Xaba, the Tasbet area’s former ANC branch chairman, and who through the company collects R3.7 million each month and uses it to satisfy his taste for expensive things.
Sgudla told the tenants to stop paying and the homes should be transferred to the tenants for ownership rather than “renting forever”. They should enter into a “rent-to-buy” agreement with the developer of the homes – which is him, and pay towards owning the homes.
But Xaba is going to court over this and says the homes cannot be transferred to the tenants for ownership because they were never meant for that process in the first place. He said the homes are like hostels, they are meant to accommodate immigrant workers who are low income earners.
He also said that Sgudla wants to “profit from the sale of social housing units built with public funds”.
Formally known as uThingo Park, the Dingindoda rental area in eMalahleni.
But Sgudla says a document called Land Availability Agreement his company signed with the eMalahleni local municipality at the start of the project in the early 2000s allows him to sell the units to “members of the public” and then take some of the money and pay the municipality for the land on which the homes are built.
Both the Land Availability Agreement and Sgudla’s claims over Dingindoda are a subject of court. Xaba argues that the Land Availability Agreement is unlawful and should be reviewed by the Tshwane High Court sitting in Middleburg.
It will be heard later this year.
The tenants say they are marching to the eMalahleni municipality on 6 May 2019 to demand that it tell Xaba to stop “harrassing” them.
In a message circulating on WhatsApp the tenants say the reason they are taking to the municipality is “because some have received court papers, some they have received illegal garnish orders delivered at their workplaces and some of their monies were debited without their knowledge and it looks like they [Xaba and his people] are trying to provoke the peaceful people of uThingo Park”.
“The municipality as the ones who hired these agents called Emalahleni Housing Company must tell them to stop harassing the peaceful community of uThingo because there are court processes that are running and lets all wait for the law to take its course and justice to prevail,” one of the leaders said.
He said they will deliver a memorandum to mayor Linah Malatjie’s office about Xaba.
SEE ALSO: Dingindoda residents report George Xaba to Ramaphosa
In his response, Xaba said he had been faced with people who had been stopping new tenants from coming in.
“Staff members are also threatened and vehicles belonging to the non-profit company are damaged when they come to the premise,”Xaba said.
He added other tenants who want to comply are forced to stay away from work, with the other group blocking the entry.
He said the court has interdicted the tenants who refused to pay and had allowed “EHC to perform its duties”.
“I do not understand when he says EHC is provoking and harassing peaceful people of uThingo. Is it peaceful when you burn down properties? Is it peaceful when you barricades the complex and force everyone to stay away from work? Is [it] peaceful when you block people from exercising their democratic rights to stay away from your meetings . Is it peaceful when you continuously harass and provoke security person for doing their job to protect innocent and law-bidding citizens?” Xaba asked in his response.
They are fighting for the right to own the public homes, rather than being tenants “forever”.
George Xaba and his Emalahleni Housing Company have now been reported to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Also Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been asked to look into the matter.
The scores of Dingindoda residents this week drove all the way to Union Building in order submit a memorandum of demand to Ramaphosa’s office.
They tell the head of state that they are “poor, working class people” and are living in units that were “hijacked” by Xaba’s Emalahleni Housing Company soon after its construction in the early 2000s.
The 1, 300 Tasbet Park units, known as uThingo Park and nicknamed Dingindoda, are a subject of court contention between businessman Themba Sgudla and Xaba.
Sgudla wants the residents to no longer pay rent – instead he wants them to pay money into his account towards a rent-to-buy arrangement and the residents agree.
But Xaba and the Mpumalanga provincial government are saying that cannot happen – the homes were built with public money and were meant to accommodate immigrant workers on a low rental cost arrangement like hostels.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office is yet to confirm receiving the memorandum from the residents
Xaba and the residents are on each other’s throats and letters of evictions have been sent to the residents after some ceased paying rent in September 2018 – told by Sgudla to do so.
In the memorandum, the residents demand that the President intervenes and stops Xaba from “illegally evicting” them.
They also want the President to make the rent-to-buy arrangement possible after the Mpumalanga authorities opposed it, saying they have been staying in the public homes for 16 years and now find themselves “renting forever”.
“This project was also meant to assist the poor working class of eMalahleni to have an option to rent to buy for a period of 15 years and not to rent forever,” the memorandum, signed by residents’ representatives Nelville Maseko, Candy Ganyane and Phumzile Sibiya.
Businessman Themba Sgudla – whose company Anchorprops21 Pty Ltd built the social housing units – wants the residents to own them by entering into a rent-to-buy agreement with him and to dump George Xaba’s Emalahleni Housing Company
Xaba has secured court orders to get the residents who refuse to pay rent evicted from the area but the residents want Ramaphosa to intervene, saying the reason they do not pay rent is because they want Xaba to come answer “questions concerning the maintenance and allegation of corruption”.
They also want Ramaphosa to help get the homes transferred into the hands of the eMalahleni municipality and no longer in Xaba’s hands saying it was “unconstitutional for [his] Emalahleni Housing Company to continue collecting rent from the residents while there is still a land dispute in the court of law”.
They say the homes are in the hands of an “individual for a purpose of self-enrichment”.
“[He is] trying very hard to secure the land of government in order to privatise subsidised government apartments for a purpose of looting from the working class and the poor people of eMalahleni. We have requested the Public Protector to investigate the allegations of transferring the land of government illegally,” the memorandum reads in part.
Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman Khusela Diko didn’t answer SMSed questions this week.
The men are in a brawl as a consequence of the Dingindoda rental housing area.
Emalahleni Housing Company boss George Xaba has secured a court order for the arrest of businessman Themba Sgudla and his ally Bhuti Mamba for continuing to defame him.
Both Sgudla and Mamba will return to the Tshwane high court sitting in Middelburg on 21 February 2019 to argue before Judge Segopotje Mphahlele why the order should not be made final.
It was secured by Xaba this week after both Sgudla and Mamba violated a 23 October 2018 court order prohibiting them from defaming Xaba and interfering with the lease agreement that the people of Dingindoda have with Xaba.
The high court judgement comes after Sgudla and Mamba convened a community meeting with the Dingindoda tenants on 7 November 2018 and labelled the 23 October court order “irrelevant”, saying they were now proceeding to give the tenants title deeds to own the public homes.
The Dingindoda issue is a subject of court contention between Xaba and Sgudla.
Sgudla says the area belongs to him through a piece of paper called ‘Land Availability Agreement’ he had with the eMalahleni municipality and this paper allows him to sell the public homes “to members of the public” and then pay some of the money to the municipality for the land on which the homes were built.
Formally known as uThingo Park, the Dingindoda rental area in eMalahleni.
But Xaba says the homes were built with government money and the Land Availability Agreement is invalid in that it purports to entitle Sgudla “to profit from the sale of social housing units built with public funds”.
Xaba also says in court papers that the price for which the municipal land is sold is far below the value of the land and in its aspect is a breach of the law governing social housing in South Africa.
Sgudla’s Anchorprops21 Pty Ltd, Demacode, the eMalahleni municipality, human settlement MEC Norah Mahlangu and the Social Housing Regulatory Authority are respondents in the matter being brought by Xaba against the Land Availability Agreement and to be heard on 13 May and 26 August 2019.
On 23 October 2018, both Sgudla and Mamba agreed in court that they would no longer tell the residents that Xaba was “stealing” the Dingindoda money.
But on 7 November 2018 the two returned to Dingindoda for a community meeting and violated the court order.
They told the residents that the relationship between Xaba and the tenants had now been “terminated” by Sgudla’s Anchorprops and were now proceeding with giving the public homes to the tenants for ownership.
The homes were going to be bought on a “instalment sale agreement”, they told the ululating tenants who the following day threw in a big party celebrating the announcement by Sgudla to give them the homes to own.
Again, on 10 November 2018, the two pulled down the uThingo Park signage outside the Dingindoda gate and replaced it with one written ‘Cyril Ramaphosa Family Village’ in a gathering attended by a score of Dingindoda residents who were singing struggle songs.
But a day later Xaba took it down. Days later the residents put the signage up again.
In her judgement, Mphahlele said it was “highly unlikely” that both Sgudla and Mamba didn’t know what they were doing on the 7 November meeting and that their failure to comply with the 23 October court order was “willful”.
“It is declared that the respondents are in contempt of the court order dated 23 October 2018,” the Judge said Tuesday this week.
“The respondents are hereby committed to undergo imprisonment for a period of 30 days. The period of imprisonment imposed on the respondents is suspended for a period of 1 year on condition that the respondents are not found to be in the contempt of the court order of 23 October 2018 within the period of the operation of the suspension,” Mphahlele said.
She had given the two the date of 21 February 2019 to come argue why this should not be made final.
He says most of the R3.7 million that he collects from the public homes is used to “invest back into the property” but the residents say that’s a “sheer lie”.
Emalahleni Housing Company boss George Xaba is not maintaining the Dingindoda rental settlement, the tenants have said.
Now they say they no longer want to see him on the premises because “he misuses our money” and that they allegedly “are forced to live like pigs”.
Since the 013NEWS wrote a series of stories on the Dingindoda issue the tenants have been sending us photos of “the conditions we now live [under] at Uthingo Park and no one can fix it”.
Uthingo Park is the official name of the area – but informally it’s called ‘Dingindoda’ and is located in the eMalahleni suburb of Tasbet Park.
A blocked drain in one of the Uthingo Park units.
Xaba has said that he collects the R3.7 million monthly in order to maintain the area for the benefits of the tenants who live there.
But people who live inside the area said nobody maintains the social housing units – not even cutting the grass.
They have sent photos of what looks like a leaking ceiling, blocked sewage and drain systems.
A blocked sewer overflows just metres from the front door of one of the Uthingo Park units.
In court papers seen by 013NEWS, Xaba said he operates on a “strict budget”.
He says he receives R3.7 million in monthly rent from the 1 300 homes “while [the] expenses are ordinarily R2.7 million per month”.
“We use any surplus that we receive to upgrade and re-invest in the project for the benefits of all the residents,” said Xaba.
An overflowing sewer manhole at Uthingo Park.
Xaba pays himself an amount of R1.3 million each year – actually over R10 million that Xaba, the 7 board members and other staff members pay themselves each year from the R43 million they collect yearly from the housing scheme.
“Xaba doesn’t maintain the area. You can come look at the area yourself,” one tenant, fearing victimisation and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said over the weekend.
“Snakes everywhere. Come see,” she said.
A snake found in one of the houses in Uthingo Park last month (Sept).
Another one, Mandla Mahlangu, wrote a lengthy WhatsApp message to the 013NEWS reporter and said he started staying in Dingindoda from 2013.
He said on 30 August 2018, Xaba kicked him out and told him he was “no longer fit to stay at Uthingo Park as I was not working permanently”.
“I was forced to leave the house while I was [making] up-to-date payments though I was struggling.
“I had to ask a friend just to keep my stuff at Extension 14 in the location until I get another place to stay. My heart is so bleeding for that place because I cant afford even to buy a house now. Initially I was told the place is for rent to buy. I’m sharing this with the hope of maybe I can be helped. I was staying at block 16, 134. Since I was chased out that house is empty as we speak I don’t know maybe they wanted it for their friends,” said Mahlangu.
He is currently rushing to court to wage a ‘defamation’ law suit against the community leaders.
Emalahleni Housing Company boss George Xaba is giving himself a salary of R1.3 million each year excluding bonuses and other personal expenses like medical aid from Dingindoda rentals, this paper can reveal.
Documents seen by the 013NEWS reporter this week show that the government-mandated public company collects over R41 million in rent each year from the vulnerably employed people of Dingindoda in Tasbet Park and this money has been used to buy other properties worth over R61 million to the personal belonging of Xaba and pals serving in the board.
Other than Uthingo Park, informally known as Dingindoda, which is valued at close to R200 million, the eMalahleni Housing Company claims to own flats in Model Park which are worth R18 million, others in Klarinet worth R40 million and guesthouses in the CBD totalling over R3 million.
But documents from the Deed’s Office show the properties are not actually registered under the non-profit company’s name.
Xaba also drives around in a Mercedes-Benz E250 paid for by the tenants and in their financial statements, the board members of the eMalahleni Housing Company list Limelight Properties (Pty) Ltd and Likhaya Community Development NPC as their “subsidiaries” but the information at the Deeds Office still shows that eMalahleni Housing Company owns nothing.
What this could mean is that all these properties are registered in the personal names of Xaba and friends.
Xaba didn’t answer his phone after repeated attempts to contact him this week.
The eMalahleni Housing Company has 8 board members – Xaba who is the chief executive officer, chief financial officer Zanele Shongwe, Desmond Khoza, Hazel Zitha, Nomvula Motloung, Busisiwe Dlamini, Risimati Chauke and Thabo Mokoena and an amount of R10.7 million is used annually in paying them and other staff members.
R1.7 million is used in paying for Xaba and other employees’ medical aids.
The eMalahleni Housing Company is a government-mandated rent collecting agent and was established as a non-profit organisation to collect rent and continue the development of the houses for low income earners in the area but was politically hijacked from the developer and has now been used by Xaba, who is the area’s ex-ANC branch chairman, and pals to live a comfortable lifestyle at the expense of the vulnerably employed tenants.
It was supposedly meant to be rent-to-buy homes but Xaba disputes this and said the homes can’t be rent-to-buy homes “where beneficiaries enjoy ownership”.
“The perception that is being created that the units can be handed over to people for ownership is far from the truth,” Xaba said in a statement.
The public company gives Khoza, who is allegedly deployed by the Law Society, an amount of R131 000 each year to serve on the board while giving chief financial officer Shongwe R555 000.
ZANELE SHONGWE: Chief finanial officer of Emalahleni Housing Company. PICTURE BY EHC.
The Cosatu’s Mokoena earns over R80 000, Dlamini R112 000, Motloung R102 000 and Chauke R175 000.
At the Likhaya Community Development NPC Xaba, Shongwe, Laya Chetty, Chauke, Mokoena, Khoza and Motloung are registered as directors.
The Dingindoda settlement is registered as being valued at close to R200 million.
Xaba is currently in court to fight off allegations that he is enriching himself at the expense of poor people “as defamation and interference aimed at dissuading tenants from paying rent and [trying to] to unseat eMalahleni Housing Company as the lawful housing authority”.
Two NGOs are heading to the Tshwane High Court to force government to respect the constitutional rights of people with regard to the air pollution being caused by Mpumalanga’s Sasol and Eskom power plants.