The DA in North West has demanded that the Department of Public Works and Roads account for government officials who have been living rent-free in departmental properties for many years. Over 300 of these properties are situated in Sonop near Brits.
“The DA in North West is shocked to learn that provincial department employees have been living rent-free in departmental properties for years without any action taken. North West MEC for Public Works and Roads, MEC Oageng Molapisi, must account for the department’s inability to recover lost rent as well as for failure to implement the State Housing Policy, which allows for the official residence of political office bearers, and scarce-skill officials such as medical doctors, nurses, and other professionals in far-flung rural regions, not departmental employees who work at provincial government departments,” said Freddy Sonakile, DA spokesperson. The department has previously indicated that it administers 1 352 properties across the North West, which consist of freestanding houses, apartments, institutional accommodation, and single-quarter residences. These properties should be used to accommodate scarce skills in communities. Sonakile said the DA will submit questions to MEC Molapisi on how many officials have been living rent-free, for how long, the total revenue lost, their positions, and who authorised the occupation of these properties. “This is unacceptable, especially considering that hundreds of thousands of desperate people across the province live in terrible conditions waiting for formalised state housing while battling unemployment, yet salaried government officials think they can live rent-free at taxpayer expense.” The MEC told the Sowetan newspaper that the department has 350 houses in Sonop occupied by tenants. The department pays between R780,000 and R1,5m annually for rates to Madibeng municipality. Less than 10% of the Sonop occupants pay rent. According to Molapisi, tenants blatantly refuse to pay. These government employees are now R72 million in arrears. He said eviction notices had already been issued. He also indicated that the department plans to dispose of these properties.