Home News Public Protector assists city resident after she almost loses her home

Public Protector assists city resident after she almost loses her home

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After an almost decade-long struggle to acquire a title deed following the death of her partner, a Kimberley widow is now freely occupying her home after the provincial Public Protector’s Office intervened in the matter.

Ellen Phiri was assisted by the Public Protector’s Office. Picture: Soraya Crowie

AFTER an almost decade-long struggle to acquire a title deed following the death of her partner, a Kimberley widow, Selloane Phiri, is now freely occupying her home after the provincial Public Protector’s Office intervened in the matter.

According to Phiri, she was sent from pillar to post after she found out that her name was not registered on the title deed for the RDP house she shared with her late partner.

“My partner and I were never married. We were at first staying in a shanty and in 1999 we applied for a RDP home. Our application was approved but on the day we received the title only my partner’s name and signature was on the title deed,” said Phiri.

“We were at the time told by officials that only one name is necessary and that we both would be staying inside the house. Things however started getting complicated in 2013 when my partner passed away. When I went to report his estate, I found out that there were relatives who wanted the house.

“I then went back to the municipality with a copy of the title deed as my partner had possession of the original. An official at the municipality indicated that he could not assist me. He said the only thing he could change was the municipal statement.”

Phiri said she lost hope that the matter would ever be resolved.

“I used to go up and down to the municipality, but would leave feeling hopeless every time. I then decided to give the matter a rest during the years that followed. I did not go back to the municipality in 2014, 2015 or in 2016. I was just tired and felt defeated about not getting a solution to this problem. I was tired of having to knock on doors which were slammed in my face,” she sighed.

She added that she tried again in 2017, this time with the assistance of a legal expert.

“In 2017 I tried to get help from an attorney, who wrote a letter to the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) about the matter. Coghsta then wrote a letter to the Master’s Office at the Northern Cape High Court. An official at the Master’s Office confirmed receiving the letter but said that he could not work with it. I again just gave up because I ran out of ideas on how to approach and solve this problem.”

Phiri said that in 2019, she “unexpectedly” got advice to approach the Public Protector’s Office.

“I went back to the municipality again and there I met a woman with whom I shared my story. She asked whether I had approached the Public Protector’s Office for help. She showed me that the office she was referring to was not far from the municipality. I immediately went and my case was registered.”

Phiri smiled and said she is relieved that the matter has finally been concluded.

“I did not know that the Public Protector was able to investigate and solve this matter. I would still be walking up and down with this matter if they had not intervened. The woman I met that day really saved me a lot of trouble.

“Today my heart is full of joy. I placed all my trust in the Public Protector’s Office to solve this matter and they did so brilliantly.”

The provincial spokesperson for the Public Protector’s Office, Nthuthuko Khanya, said they have had several similar complaints regarding the wrongful registration of title deeds.

“We have been struggling to get a response from the Sol Plaatje Municipality. We are struggling to get any feedback from them on what exactly went wrong. We even subpoenaed the municipality but they still did not react,” said Khanya.

He said the municipality needs to get its records in order to avoid such matters in future.

“We have had several similar complaints regarding the wrongful registration of title deeds. The municipality needs to run an audit on its properties and needs to review their records regularly. That could solve some of the challenges,” said Khanya.

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