100 residents of Kwakwatsi find true economic transformation in a title deed and home ownership

In a powerful initiative to extend home ownership to more underprivileged South Africans, Standard Bank has through its key sponsorship paved the way for 100 title deeds to be issued to former occupiers of council properties in the community of Kwakwatsi, Koppies, in the Free State.

These 100 residents will enter as tenants and walk out as home owners.

“A title deed and home ownership are the first steps towards true economic empowerment,” says Free Market Foundation (FMF) executive director Leon Louw.

“Although once a thriving town with many small businesses, today Kwakwatsi is seriously economically deprived with unemployment and hardship clearly visible. There is no better place for Standard Bank to put its money. The FMF is delighted to partner with the bank.”

With the 1913 Land Act banning ownership by black South Africans, the objective of the Free Market Foundation’s Khaya Lam (My Home) Land Reform Project is to assist in having all council-owned properties countrywide upgraded to full freehold title.

“This is an important step towards giving many more people in South Africa the full benefits, security and pride associated with owning a home. There is a long journey ahead to achieving land reform in our country, but if more people get involved we can make significant strides together in uplifting the lives of SA citizens,” says Andrew van der Hoven, head of home loans at Standard Bank.

Louw says: “Black land deprivation was probably the single worst element of the colonial and apartheid eras and little has changed since 1994. Between 5 million and 7 million black and coloured families still live as tenants or without ownership rights in houses they have lived in for generations. There has been no systematic conversion of these council owned and traditional community properties to full, unrestricted ownership.

“The bank sponsored the transfer of 100 title deeds in the presence of local government dignitaries. The occupiers of the houses are from an era where black people, with their own funds, built houses on council property with no prospect of ever receiving a title deed.

“While the arduous process of a land audit is still winding its way through parliament phase two of the report is due to be processed by Cabinet at the end of October, citizens are seeking solutions today,” says Louw.

The Free Market Foundation is a non-profit public benefit organisation, and Louw says that an absence of information is holding back full details of missing title deeds and the ability to properly audit land in SA.

The title deeds were presented by the deputy mayor of Ngwathe Municipality, and Boitumelo Phungwayo, head of affordable housing products and strategic partners at Standard Bank PBB Products.