South Africa

Government could have given 5 million families home title deeds with the money it wasted on SAA

Over 5 million underprivileged South Africans don’t have title deeds for the houses they own and live in. The government could easily change that.

The Khaya Lam initiative is one project that helps underprivileged South Africans get title deeds for their houses.

The Free Market Foundation and First National Bank (FNB) launched the Khaya Lam Land Reform Project to give title deeds and create wealth in underprivileged communities.

The project’s mission is to assist communities in converting their apartheid-era leasehold titles to freehold titles.

The latest StatsSA data shows that 11.8 million South African households own the homes they stay in. It translates into an ownership rate of approximately 64%.

In 2019, the Centre for Housing Finance in Africa reported that, of these households, only 6.6 million had registered title deeds.

It leaves more than five million households without title deeds. Most of these occupy properties built by municipalities before and after 1994.

Many of these properties were built by the apartheid government in dormitory townships across the country.

Some families built their own small houses but did not acquire title deeds. This reduces the residents of these homes to the status of mere tenants.

These families have no secure way to sell their properties or leave them to their families when they pass on. 

A major factor in the backlog of transferring title deeds is the cost and the administrative overhead of transferring title deeds.

The Free Market Foundation said the cost of titling a modest house with an average value of R100,000 is advertised at about R6,500.

The cumbersome process and cost are too much for most legitimate inhabitants, especially the elderly, pensioners, single parent families, and the unemployed. 

Without proper title deeds, the rightful owners cannot move to another area to work without risking losing their property or borrowing money against their house to start a business.

The Khaya Lam initiative takes care of the costs and administration and, through it, helps underprivileged people to own the homes they live in.

Because of bulk transfers, the current Khaya Lam cost is R2,950 per title. It includes the administration, fundraising, and titling costs.

To date, over 13,000 title deeds have successfully been transferred to their rightful owners through the Khaya Lam initiative.

Businessman Christo Wiese

Billionaire businessman Christo Wiese told delegates at the Biznews Conference in Hermanus that he and his family support this great initiative.

He recalled the first transfer of title deeds in Parys in the Free State which happened with support from local authorities.

“My family donated the first batch of title deeds. It was incredibly moving. Elderly recipients were overwhelmed,” Wiese said.

“One lady in her 90s cried tears of joy, saying she finally had something to pass on to her children. I thought it would gain traction, but alas, it’s not a priority.”

Another big supporter is billionaire Johann Rupert and his wife, Gaynor, who helped thousands of underprivileged South Africans own their houses.

Wiese hoped individuals and big corporations, especially those with ties to the initiative, would step up. “Oddly, it didn’t happen. South Africa’s mindset is peculiar,” he said.

He added that if the government could find billions to bail out South African Airways, they should also find the money to provide people with title deeds.

The National Treasury’s data showed that South African Airways (SAA) received R50.7 billion in direct government funding from 2007 to 2022.

This means that the government could have provided all underprivileged South Africans with title deeds for the homes they own.

It will not change these people’s lives, but it will help with economic growth. Homeownership is a core ingredient to any thriving economy.

Owning a home allows people to improve their value by investing in it, selling it, or passing it on to their children.


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