The well-being of South Africa’s military veterans is ostensibly in the hands of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) which, judging by a response to a Parliamentary question, cannot stop illegal occupation of houses provided for former soldiers.
It also appears the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), operating under Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla, is not exactly turning out new houses for veterans at any rate of knots, to use a maritime term.
Former Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Maliyakhe Shelembe, now a Democratic Alliance (DA) public representative, was informed by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula Eastern Cape and Gauteng were the only two provinces where military veterans’ housing projects were underway.
In KwaZulu-Natal, “there is no housing project for military veterans to date. The military veterans in the province illegally occupied the 40 sq m Breaking New Ground houses”. There are, according to the Ministerial response, 358 of these illegally occupied in six locations.
Gauteng-based military veterans have lost 133 houses meant for them to illegal occupants in seven locations. These range from the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros to West Rand and Sedibeng, in the south of the province.
A lone veteran housing project in Eastern Cape’s Chris Hani Municipality reports 26 houses illegally occupied.
All told, in the three provinces where housing projects for military veterans are underway 517 houses are not being lived in by former and/or retired soldiers.
The Ministerial response did not indicate if the housing was occupied by bogus veterans or others.
It did point out “the DMV agreed with role players including the Department of Human Settlements, the Housing Development Agency and contractors to submit approved allocation lists of military veterans so names should be linked to stand numbers before construction of housing projects commences”.
The DMV has been slow to build promised houses for veterans. The department planned to provide a thousand houses to military veterans in 2018/19 400 in 2019/20, 500 the following year and 600 the year after. This compares to 130 houses in 2015/16. Only 238 houses were actually built in 2018.