Developer got R22m for crumbling houses

Posted On Monday, 01 July 2002 02:00 Published by
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The minister of housing has vowed to recoup R21-million from a developer


The minister of housing has vowed to recoup R21-million from a developer after he allegedly built substandard homes for the poor.

Peter Pitcher, 48, was a small-town lawyer in Kloof, near Durban, when his company, Unicon Development, was awarded a R24-million contract to develop 1 400 low-cost Reconstruction and Development Programme houses in Bruntville in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands in 1997. 

Pitcher left South Africa after being paid out R22-million by Housing Department officials in 1998, leaving houses allegedly built without concrete foundations or water and electricity. In addition, a backlog of 200 houses were not built. 

The Minister of Housing, Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, has vowed to extradite Pitcher, who is believed to be in New Zealand, saying he had reneged on his contract. 

'His actions will now cost the state a further R21-million to repair and build the remaining houses ,' she said. 

Mthembi-Mahanyele said the National Housing Consumers Measures Act of 1998 enabled the department to take legal action against anyone who defrauded the state. 

The chief director of housing in KwaZulu-Natal, Nonhlanhla Mthembu, said an internal investigation was also under way to ascertain how Pitcher was allowed to 'unduly claim' money from the department. 

'The houses Pitcher built were substandard and he ran away with millions,' said Mthembu, adding that forensic audits were taking place. 

'If there was negligence on the part of departmental officials, the necessary disciplinary steps will be taken .' 

Bruntville was at the centre of faction fighting in the early 1990s and the project was billed as the flagship of RDP housing in KwaZulu-Natal.  

When the Sunday Times visited Bruntville, hundreds of homes were in disrepair. Several residents complained bitterly about their houses. 

Alpheus Mchunu, a father of three, lives in a two-bedroomed house that was not built on a concrete foundation. There are no water or electricity connections and sections of his roof are missing. 

'We are living in homes that could fall and kill us at any time,' he said. 
According to a report compiled by the KwaZulu-Natal housing department: 
Only 1 232 of the 1 423 homes were built; 
381 had either no water supplies or faulty connections; 
310 had no toilets or part ly built ones; 
408 had no windows; and 
222 had either no roofs or roofs that were damaged.

Last modified on Saturday, 08 March 2014 10:24

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