Capital City Housing seeks resolution for unfair disruption of services

Imagine an unknown person barges into your home and decides to live there, rent-free and indefinitely. They refuse to move out and hold you hostage in your own home. What would you do?

This is a situation that would warrant the arrival of special forces, negotiators and several highly trained officials to assist you in removing the invader and helping you reclaim your home and your safety.

But in the case of Capital City Housing NPC, a social housing institution that provides low-cost housing to residents of Msunduzi and provides employment to over a 100 people in Pietermaritzburg, an invasion of our complex has left us wanting from the powers that be.

Msunduzi Municipality, as part of the Qoqama-million operation, has targeted the tenants of Capital City Housing NPC and has hard disconnected the lights and water at 3 developments owned and operated by CCH on 20 June 2024, namely Aloe Ridge in Westgate, Acacia Park in Oribi Road and Signal Hill in Nienabar Road; as well as the Capital City Housing office at Peter Kerchhoff Street.

The Msunduzi Municipality has claimed on their social media platforms that the disconnection was due to the company owing the Municipality R38 million in municipal rates.

While Capital City Housing has been working on finding a resolution to this issue and bring relief to our tenants by providing water tankers in the interim, the Msunduzi Municipality has been quick to lay all the blame on Capital City Housing calling the company the “culprit” and a business whose “only interest is to make money.”

“The amount we owe seems to change in every meeting and every article published. What started at R33 million has moved to R38 million and in the latest article in the news, the amount is now R40 million.” says a senior manager at Capital City Housing.

But let’s look at the facts

Capital City Housing was forced into business rescue in 2018 due to the illegal occupation of 261 flats at Aloe Ridge. Despite numerous efforts and legal interventions, including a court order (Case Number 2425/2020P, Section 1.2) stipulating the evacuation of unlawful occupants in Aloe Ridge by 31 December 2023, the order was not followed.

The Department of Human Settlements and the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) had previously committed to assisting with payment of rent and utilities for these occupants until the specified eviction date.

Payment was only made from mid-2022 until December 2023 despite the illegal occupation commencing in February 2018. Furthermore, the payment received from the government on behalf of the illegal occupants, was short by R800,000 per month considering the actual utility usage.

Further, the Msunduzi Municipality, in terms of the consent order granted under case 8486/19P by the Honourable Judge President Madondo, was ordered to pass the credits on the accounts of Capital City Housing NPC due to overcharging and incorrect tariffs.

“The figures quoted by Municipality that Capital City Housing owes to them are figures without the passing of credits as per the court ruling,” says an executive of Capital City Housing.

“Furthermore, it is ironic that our business is being impeded from functioning for lack of municipal rate payments, when in fact Capital City Housing currently leases 21 units at Acacia Park to the Municipality for which the payment of rent and utilities are in arrears from March 2024.”

Unfortunately, following the expiration of the court-mandated deadline for eviction, the payments from relevant parties ceased, exacerbating our financial strain and impacting our ability to meet immediate obligations to the municipality. Regrettably, the illegal occupants have yet to vacate the premises, despite the judicial directive, further complicating our efforts to restore normal operations across all our developments.

Capital City Housing is committed to resolving this issue promptly in accordance with the law.

As Capital City Housing is in business rescue all legal proceedings and executive functions are managed by the BRP. The Business Rescue Practioner has been in talks with MEC, the CFO, the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the SHRA and the DOHS.

The Business Rescue Practioner has been actively engaged in legal proceedings to enforce the court orders and ensure that our tenants receive the services they are entitled to under their lease agreements. We have also been in constant communication with the relevant authorities, urging them to fulfil their obligations and rectify the situation without further delay.

“We care about our tenants, and we care about our employees. It is saddening and deeply disheartening that the Municipality, the Department of Human Settlements and the Social Housing Regulatory Authority are disrupting the lives and livelihoods of local residents. We urgently seek a resolution.” – Capital City Housing Team

To view this article which was published in The Witness newspaper on 28 June 2024 click here

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