JUBILANT ululating filled the vast hall of the Helderfontein Estate in Kyalami as 300 residents from Soweto, Orange Farm and Ivory Park were presented with long-awaited title deeds to their own properties on 17 January.
Executive mayor Parks Tau handed over the title deeds as part of the Johannesburg Property Company’s (JPC) land regularisation programme, under their My Land, My Heritage project.
“I am delighted to be here sharing in this momentous occasion with all parties involved,” said Tau. “May this be the beginning of a meaningful new chapter in the lives of the families and individuals receiving the prized title deeds to their precious land.”
Under the land regularisation programme, introduced in 2005, urban land is audited, verified and transferred to people who were not allowed to own land under apartheid legislation.
“Today is not just about transferring properties, but about contributing and enabling people to make decisions about their own lives and those of their children and families,” Tau said.
It was also about offering a level of freedom and opportunity that the beneficiaries had not previously enjoyed. “You are in a position to make decisions about that property you own,” he told the recipients of the title deeds.
For instance, it enables those who own land to transact more efficiently, ranging from the ability to sell the property or to raise a loan using it as collateral. “There is a value attached to the property, this enables you to use that value,” he added.
Portfolio head for economic development, Sello Lemao, added a few words on the day too: “Although title deeds have been handed over to people in communities over the past seven years, today is the biggest central gathering.
“We join the beneficiaries in celebrating this momentous occasion in their lives, at this landmark event.”
The land regularisation programme is unique to the City of Johannesburg, and the first programme of its kind in South Africa. It will form the basis of a sustainable property economy by expediting the transfer of properties to beneficiaries, as well as releasing vacant sites on public tender.
It is made up of two tiers: a full audit of Council-owned land and identifying land-release strategies, and then implementing these release strategies.
Advantages of the programme include the land being transferred to legitimate owners, compiling a verifiable and more accurate asset register and securing an increased rates base for the City. It also provides economic incentives to invest in strategic parcels of land, as well as promoting social and economic development. Over the next three to five years, the programme aims to transfer and release approximately 3 700 properties in Alexandra, Soweto, Orange Farm and Ivory Park.
Growth and Development Strategy
The handover also formed an integral part of the City’s Growth and Development Strategy (GDS), known as Joburg 2040, which sets down Johannesburg’s growth path and long-term vision for the coming 30 years.
According to Tau, the City’s collective and inclusive vision is one where community development, personal growth and social mobility are enhanced, so that challenges of poverty, vulnerability, inequality and social exclusion are fundamentally addressed. The handover of title deeds to residents will go a long way towards tackling these issues.
“We have focused on finding viable and innovative solutions to a key issue of concern – cutting across issues such as liveable cities, resource sustainability, health and poverty, governance, transport, community safety, environment, smart cities and economic growth,” he said.
With the help of the provincial housing department and National Treasury Department, the JPC was able to make the handover possible. Sponsors of the event also included Investec, Atterbury Property Developments, La Farge and Calgro M3 Holdings Ltd.