Mbeki opens Brickfields housing

© City of Johannesburg website www.joburg.org.za

By Lucky Sindane

The staff of the Johannesburg Housing Company with the president

THE R97,8-million Brickfields project in Newtown, the largest ever public-private partnership in housing in South Africa, was officially launched by President Thabo Mbeki on Friday, 12 August.

The project is a joint venture between the Gauteng housing department, the Gauteng Partnership Fund, Anglo American Corporation, Absa, ApexHi and Anglo Gold. The National Housing Finance Corporation injected R25-million into the development and the City of Johannesburg provided the land.

Brickfields, an initiative overseen by the Johannesburg Housing Company, offers one- to three-bedroomed flats catering for a range of people across income groups.

Attending the launch was Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa; City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Amos Masondo; Gauteng MEC for Housing Nomvula Mokonyane; chief executive officer of Absa Steve Booysen; chief executive officer of Johannesburg Housing Company Taffy Adler; chairman of National Housing Finance Corporation Eric Molobi; chief executive officer of Anglo American Lazarus Zim; residents of Brickfields and other dignitaries.

"Three years ago the City of Johannesburg mayoral committee, in its regular block-by-block inspection and visit to the inner city, came to this spot. We observed heaps and mounds of illegal dumping. The culprits were certain private sector companies and individuals," Masondo said.

"There was also an informal settlement at its nascent stage of development. Through persuasion the informal settlement relocated elsewhere and the different entities of council cleared the rubble and removed all the rubbish, giving way to this important development."

The project is one of the first Presidential Job Summit pilot projects, announced by the minister of housing in 2001.

"When we came out of the Presidential Job Summit we said there should be housing and security for people. We are very excited about today's launch," Mbeki said.

"We need to have more of these initiatives so that we ensure that people have better houses and their lives are improved. We hope that Brickfields will inspire more public-private partnerships."

Shilowa said the housing project was a product of a long, successful process that was entered into between the government and the private sector.

"This development is to make Johannesburg's inner city a desirable residential area and maintain its acclaimed status as a destination city."