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Media Statement: The Department of Human Settlements in Mpumalanga builds a house for Mrs Gumede following the intervention of the South African Human Rights Commission

Attention: Editors and Reporters

06 September 2022

On 13 September 2021, the South African Human Rights Commission in Mpumalanga (“the Commission) received a complaint against Lekwa Local Municipality (“the Municipality”) and the Department of Human Settlements (“DHS”).  The complainant was a community member on behalf of an elderly pensioner and beneficiary of an RDP house, Mrs Gumede*.

The complaint alleged that shortly after she took occupation of the house in 2008, Mrs Gumede was instructed by the then ward councillor to vacate the house, as it was reportedly structurally defective and posed a safety risk to her and her family. The Complainant alleged that the ward Councillor promised Mrs Gumede that a new house would be built. Mrs Gumede subsequently built a shack on the premises in which she and her family have been residing since 2016. Up until the point at which the complaint was lodged with the Commission in September 2021, no communication had been forthcoming to Mrs Gumede from any institution of the state.

Following receipt of the complaint, the Commission immediately addressed letters to the Municipality and to the DHS putting forth the allegations. Although the Commission received a response from the Municipality, DHS failed to respond, despite several follow-ups sent by the Commission to the Office of the Acting Head of Department.
The Commission subsequently instituted subpoena proceedings against the Acting Head of the DHS.  A subpoena hearing was held on 24 June 2022. During the hearing, the Commission lamented the carelessness with which Mrs Gumede was treated, and the violation and deprivation of her rights as a result. The DHS committed to build and complete the house for Mrs Gumede.

The Commission wishes to inform the public that it has received a progress report from the Provincial Acting Head of Human Settlements, together with picture evidence of the constructioin.

Construction on the house of Mrs Gumede has commenced and is projected to be finished by no later than the end of September 2022. The DHS also instituted a detailed investigation into the structural state of RDP houses built under the same contract as that of Mrs Gumede, in Sakhile Township, in Standerton.
Following receipt of the assessment report, which found latent structural defects in the houses, the DHS is taking further action, which includes, but is not limited to, investigating the internal approvals of the contract, and referring the contractor to the National Home Builders Regulation Council (NHBRC) for further action.
The Commission is pleased with the progress made in this matter and wishes to further reassure the public of its commitment to protecting and promoting human rights as mandated by the Constitution.

*A pseudonym is adopted to protect the identity of the person concerned.


For queries, please contact Ms Thobile Sibanyoni at the Mpumalanga Provincial Office of the South African Human Rights Commission on 013 752 8292 / 076 262 0765 or on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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