THE rollout of Joburg Property Company’s land regularisation programme is expected to stimulate economic growth in previously disadvantaged areas.

According to the company’s acting chief operations officer, Kululwa Muthwa, the programme was set up to transfer ownership of council-owned properties to individuals who had been unable to own land because of apartheid legislation.

“We believe that ownership of land forms the basis of a sustainable economy and provides a starting point for future advancements,” said Muthwa.

The land regularisation programme, which started in 2005, is the first of its kind in Joburg’s history and allows the property company to audit, verify and transfer urban land that is not required by the council to fulfil its functions.

“The advantage of this approach is that it will empower individuals and stimulate job creation,” said Muthwa, adding that it would also help the City improve its asset register. “With an accurate asset register, the City is better placed to deliver services to its residents and increase its rates.”

The process comprises two phases: firstly, there is an audit of all council-owned property and land release strategies are identified. The audit identifies properties that are vacant and includes council-owned shops, land and land regarded as “farm portions”.

Secondly, the sites are improved and released to beneficiaries. Places where the programme is taking place include Soweto, Orange Farm, Ivory Park, Alexandra and Diepsloot.

One problem facing the property company is developing parcels of land before handing them over to residents. Muthwa explained that regularisation was more than just the plotting out of land. “Regularisation requires putting in the necessary infrastructure that will make the lives of residents more comfortable, while adding value and equity to the land that they will soon own.”

In one move, 300 residents received title deeds to their properties from the City at Helderfontein Conference Centre in Kyalami on 17 January. “Over the next three to five years we are looking at transferring 3 700 properties to residents across the city,” said Muthwa.

My Land, My Heritage

To speed up home ownership and service delivery, the City launched the My Land, My Heritage, project during the Joburg 2040 Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) outreach towards the end of 2011.

The land regularisation programme falls under the project, which will result in the Joburg Property Company transferring thousands of council-owned properties into the hands of residents, so improving their quality of life.

The GDS is a long-term plan guiding Joburg’s transformation into a productive, sustainable, liveable and caring city. Distilled over nine weeks of communication and workshops with residents and experts, Joburg2040, as it is called, will drive the City’s development and growth over the next three decades.

Key topics on liveable cities, resource sustainability, health and poverty, governance, transportation, community safety, environment, economic growth and smart cities were covered during the outreach, which ran from 2 August to 5 October 2011.