Portfolio committee unaware of R61 million Camel Rock Social Housing scandal

Dacre Haddon MPL

Spokesperson on Human Settlements

The DA is horrified that the Portfolio Committee on Human settlements in the Provincial Legislature has not been informed about alleged tender irregularities worth R61 million involving the Camel Rock Social Housing project in Connemara in East London.

The bank account of East London based Camel Rock Social Housing has been frozen after the Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained a court order yesterday.  An amount of R61 million was to be used to pay service providers during the construction of units for the poor.

However, the plot remains vacant.

Given that there appears to be possible criminality or fiduciary impropriety regarding the tender process considering the involvement of both the National Prosecuting Authority and Asset Forfeiture Unit, it is disgraceful that the Portfolio Committee was not appraised.

It is of serious concern that, as reported in the media, an official of the Social Housing Regulating Authority (SHRA) was “pressurised” to make a payment to Camel Rock.

An amount of R150 million was paid to SHRA to finance eleven social housing projects in the province.  Of this, R61 million was earmarked for the Connemara project for the installation of bulk services.

There are serious questions that need to be asked regarding this matter.

Firstly, why was an amount of R61 million paid to Camel Rock when there has been no value created and a vacant plot remains where the units should have been erected?

Secondly, why did the Department of Human Settlements blindly pay over this money (and other funds for other projects) as a whole and not incrementally as the phases of the project were completed?

I have spoken and written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Human Settlements Dennis Neer, requesting an urgent meeting of the committee with the MEC for Human Settlements as soon as possible, to discuss this issue.

As elected members of the legislature we are custodians of the public purse.   It is imperative that the executives of SHRA and Camel Rock account to the portfolio committee regarding the tender process and irregular payments of this money.

Furthermore, I have referred this matter to my colleague in parliament, Stevens Mokgalapa, for his intervention with the Minister of Human Settlements.

The lack of adequate social housing facilities in this province is unacceptable.

Social Housing is a vital alternative avenue of opportunity for citizens to acquire decent housing when a permanent RDP home solution may not suit an individual’s current needs.

In addition, social housing is a rapid way to ensure communal diversity, as communities opt for housing closer to their places of employment.  By so doing, individuals can create greater financial opportunity for themselves by spending less on transport costs.

The DA will be following this matter closely and ensure that this much needed housing project commences as soon as possible.

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