Monday, January 21, 2008

Belhar councillor accused of defrauding homeless people

By Rhodé Marshall
20 January 2007

Belhar DA ward councillor Willie Jaftha has been accused of asking people for money to ensure that they receive a house in the Delft Symphony area.

It is alleged that when community members — who are in need of homes — would speak to Jaftha, he would ask them for R1500 in cash to ensure that they receive a home regardless of whether they are on the housing waiting list or not.

A woman who asked not to be named said that she has spoken to various people who have given money to Councillor Jaftha, in exchange for what they believed to be a home or a higher spot on the housing waiting list.

"A family who does have a home gave Jaftha R1500 and she is now living in Delft Symphony, I'm not even sure if she ever was on the waiting list. Here I have been waiting for 13 years along with my children, then young people who have no children get the luxury of having a home."

Asked about the allegations, Jaftha denied that he had ever asked people for money to push their names up the list or give them homes, saying that he is willing to go live on radio to refute the claims and discuss the issue with his accusers.

“I would like the people to come forward and bring proof of it so that I can take them to court immediately,” says Jaftha.

Annie* who has been a backyard dweller for years says that she was told by Councillor Jaftha that he would help her get a house if she gave him a fee.

The backyard dwellers say that after Jaftha was confronted by angry community members, he changed his story and is now claiming ignorance.

"When I wanted to give him the money he acted as if we never had the conversation, as if I imagined it or as if he was caught out," says Annie.

Jaftha said that he would like the people making the allegations to say into which account they paid the money into, or show if they have receipts as proof of payment.

Jaftha added that, at a meeting, Thubelisha Homes had told members of the community waiting to receive houses that they had to pay an amount into Thubelisha’s account, and he was not sure whether that had confused people in the community.

*The community members have requested anonymity for fear of losing their places on the housing list.


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