root - March 26, 2024

50 women protest to support widow’s claim to RDP house. 

Tenant refuses to vacate, demands payment.

Peter Luhanga 

In a show of solidarity, approximately 50 women from Witsand in Atlantis took to the streets on Tuesday to support a widow trying to reclaim her late husband’s RDP house which has been occupied by a caretaker for more than 10 years. The caretaker is refusing to vacate, preventing the widow and her children from moving in. 

Protesting in front of the RDP house in Rose Street, the women stated the caretaker had attempted to sell the house last year for R250,000. The caretaker, Bonginkosi Luthuli, who is a committee member of the South African National Civic Organisation Witsand branch, had prepared the necessary documents for the sale, but the transaction was halted when the buyer requested the title deed holder sign the documents, which the widow refused to do.

The 41-year-old widow Noncedo Luthuli (not related to Bonginkosi) has been living in a one-room shack in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, with her two children and one grandchild.

Noncedo says she married her husband, Bethwell Lungile, in 2005. She says her husband qualified for, and received an RDP house in Witsand Phase 2 in 2011. At the time, Lungile was terminally ill and living in his home village in the Eastern Cape. 

She says Bonginkosi began living in the house after making arrangements with the family, but only paid the R1,200 rental for two months. Lungile then died in 2020, leaving her and their two children.

She says her family had repeatedly asked Bonginkosi to hand over the keys to the house, but he has refused. 

She says last month she began processing the deceased estate by submitting a Home Affairs death certificate, her marriage certificate, and her ID to the deeds office to obtain the title deed in her name. While this was in progress, she attempted to move into the house, but Bonginkosi refused to vacate.

She says Bonginkosi demanded R80,000 and alternative accommodation if he was to leave the house. He was not present at the house when the women were protesting on Tuesday

Community Activist Fundiswa Makeleni, who was amongst the protesting women, says women organised the protest having felt let down by the Sanco Witsand branch.

“We felt they are playing with the rights of a widow and her children. Bonginkosi Luthuli is a Sanco committee member and a local church pastor,” says Makeleni.

Makeleni says she has been living in Witsand since 2005 and confirmed that Bonginkosi is not the beneficiary of the RDP house.

Noncedo says when she tried to register on the housing waiting list, the system rejected her registration because she had used the surname of her deceased husband, who was already a beneficiary of an RDP house.

“We live in a shack. I am unemployed. I need him to get out the house so I can move in with my children. The house is the only thing that my husband left,” says Noncedo, “I am stressed because I’ve been raising my children in a shack in Alexandra township in Johannesburg.”

When approached for comment on Saturday, Bonginkosi confirmed he doesn’t own the house. He stated we should call him later for a detailed comment. However, when we tried to contact him later, he did not answer our calls. We also sent him questions via traditional text message and WhatsApp, but he did not respond. 

Atlantis ward councillor Moosa Raise addressed the protesting women on Tuesday. Raise said Bonginkosi also confirmed to him he did not own the house.

“We agreed that Bonginkosi Luthuli is not a lawful owner of the property and the lady is a lawful owner of the property, and that he is looking for alternative place to stay,” said Raise. 

He said as ward councillor he needed to ensure no-one’s rights were prejudices, and the proper ownership of the property needed to be ascertained. 

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