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I write this report with a very heavy heart. This is based on 26 years of experience in RDP housing and stretching beyond that, from the old apartheid government’s ruthless enforced segregated housing schemes and municipal processes and policies. The purpose of today’s government by-laws is to eradicate the legacy of the past and specifically in design of housing developments to eliminate fragmented planning and the implementation processes with the vision of satisfying the needs of a community in an equitable, healthy and sustainable manner. However, it would appear with the new dispensation, RDP housing had been hijacked by big corporates and politicians with the help of municipalities and the tender processes. The pursuit of profit is been skilfully peddled as an inclusive housing project, with the same indifference to the living conditions of residents of housing schemes.   



The democratically elected South African government since 1994 has made housing one of its top priorities. However, the political pressure to build quickly and inexpensively has usually superseded quality and sustainable considerations when implemented in the townships of this new democracy. The energy and environmental aspects of the dwellings have been, and are likely to continue to be, left behind in the race to deliver large quantities of homes. The end result is much improved infrastructure and land ownership for beneficiaries; however the new homes which are constructed from the remaining subsidy are only a marginal improvement over the existing shacks it is supposed to replace. Thus, South Africa’s marginalized majority continues to endure uncomfortable and unhealthy homes, sweating in the summer, shivering in the winter, and breathing unhealthy air year-round, with no room for improvement. Houses with no boundary walls makes townships and it’s streets one big playground compromising health, safety and security. Extended lockdowns and social distancing becomes near impossible under such high density  compact designs and the current health crises and the underlying social challenges presents a unique opportunity to re -evaluate the successes and failures of these rapid  high density urban planning to ensure sustainable integrated designs are achieved based on best practice.





The developers in most cases over densify their proposals in a bid to earn maximum profits, but then put blame on Provincial Spatial Development Framework policies to ensure compact, balance and strategically aligned activities and uses. The consequences of densification are negatively impacting on the environment of the proposed community. The developers do not comply with the Planning By-Laws in terms of, and amongst other things, the maximum dwellings allowed ie 35 dwellings units per hectare, and this cannot be considered desirable as the township development then becomes over populated.



A proposed development’s imposition of conditions, e.g. building lines to be relaxed, smaller plot and houses sizes will have a negative impact on privacy and health of the community and cannot be considered desirable. A scheme should be zoned as the bylaw’s intent to specifically manage the outcome of such types of developments in order to achieve a healthy, safe and a pleasant environment. To do anything less indicates an attempt to cut corners, in this regard, with severe consequences for the intended residents of the proposed schemes. The actual outcome of such a scheme, if built, will then clearly impose these negative consequences in an incremental housing scheme.




In terms of the City of Cape Town Planning By-Law, 2015:

The approach taken to ensure all inter-related aspects of a scheme design are to be carefully thought through since densification has proven to adversely affect all aspects of community life, health, and safety, when not properly planned for. We cannot allow plots of 72 to100 metre square that promote density, for liveable conditions. A one room open plan house of 40 metres square, how do you isolate a sick person or child.  The street frontage of some of the erven under 9 meters and not applicable to residential ervens. Many townships do not establish a pedestrian orientated friendly environment. These properties does not meet the criteria for liveable conditions or a safe, healthy and a pleasant environment. To do anything less indicates an attempt to cut corners, in this regard, with severe consequences for the intended residents of a proposed scheme.



Poor drainage on a road has an adverse effect on the neighbourhood. It results in failure of clearing the flow in the road leading to disgusting blockages resulting in constant overflowing drains. Economic hardship of inhabitants are the order of the day and the affected communities have to endure the stench and deteriorating health as a result of breeding of mosquito especially on streets in townships with a poor drainage capacity. Drainage in townships has more blockages than in working order, since unblocked drains can overflow again in no time due to demand of effluent capacity. The pipe size and balance is vital in the densely populated area.



Unauthorised building development, and building without approved building plans is the order of the day in townships, and in most cases been ignored by municipalities. Monitoring unauthorised building development is critical in these areas. 



The Government has agreed on 12 outcomes, each with a limited number of measurable outputs with targets. Each output is linked to a set of activities that will help achieve the targets and contribute to the outcome. Each 12 outcomes has a delivery agreement, but this is never the case or achievement. Not to mention the N2 Gateway Housing Project in the Western Cape has been mired in controversy. The Auditor General Report on the project found mismanagement and widespread deficiencies in the planning.



Economic Development in townships has been improvised by township dwellers because of the lack of proper planning and insufficient infrastructure. To alleviate the demand occupants have claimed themselves the additional rights, to run their own business, which are being exercised on almost every corner and street, i.e., Spaza shops, Shebeens, House Taverns, Hair Salons, Home occupation and accommodation, including home schools and day-care centres amongst others. Travelling into town to do shopping and to work cost a fortune, and what about the young and the elderly not being able to travel.

The shopping malls and sufficient public transport system is not easily accessible by Township occupants therefore the taxi industry has grown tremendously. Taxi bosses have re-negotiated to load taxi’s to full passenger capacity and every passenger must wear a mask. Without the correct masks or no masks; taxis may only load up to 70% of their capacity. The taxis must be sanitised using an alcohol content of no less than 60%.

It is almost impossible to develop further with the limitation to extend the infrastructure; therefore additional land with sufficient infrastructure will have to be sourced because of the over-population in one area.


The access to the healthcare systems is a major challenge and is rapidly in decline because of the demand for this service. The whole of Delft, Kalkfontein and Belhar are been serviced by the Delft hospital since Day Hospitals are only servicing 50 patients per day. The standard waiting time can easily be half a day even if you are first in line. Complications due to these long waiting times have an adverse effect on the patients’ health and can even result in untimely deaths. Old and poorly maintained infrastructure at most day hospital facilities are exacerbating the service delivery. The outdated filing system and paper environment can lead to errors in passing on information to different departments. Hospitals should be run by dedicated medical professionals guiding the admin staff to supply a better standard of medical service and experience to the patient. Obviously, finances play a big role and medical services are costly for especially for those that are marginalised and unemployed in the community.

The Covid-19 spread has necessitated the building of temporary additional facilities to make the testing and isolation of infected patients easier and to have access to ventilators for those in ICU.



Unauthorised building development

Poor housing quality are the chief problem being faced.

RDP houses do not comply with the national building regulations.

No boundary walls biggest problem

Undersize plots

Over densification

Over populated areas per metre square

Poor drainage design, and overflow of drainage




Government, big corporates, and politicians, who are not governed by codes of conduct in relation to RDP housing, should allow those that are governed by a code of conduct, the Architectural Professional and designers who are governed by the Act 44 of 2000, to do the necessary. What comes to mind is a NPO building company, and reinvest the profits into better liveable, sustainable, and integrated designs. Self-help could be another option.  


Mohammed A Mohidien

Pr Arch Draught


S.A. Institute of Draughting

CBE Annual Transformation Indaba

CBE Transformation Indaba:  9 > 10 October 2019


The Council for the Built Environment (CBE) transformation is to ensure the improvement of the representation of black graduates and professionals in the six built environment professions.

The success of transformation is dependent on the strengthening of partnerships between government, the built environment and the private sector. There is a participatory approach towards achieving transformation which is focused on the entire Skills Development Strategy and streamlining the process with a specific focus on key areas in need of redress in order to ensure continuous supply of quality skilled individuals. The initiatives and programmes to develop the competencies of previously disadvantaged individuals are to be in line with the Skills Education Training Authorities (SETA) defined core, critical and scarce skills and the SETA programmes.

The proposed approach regarding intervention is to look at the short term where the focus is on increasing the number of registered professionals and providing them with funding. Currently, the focus is to ensure candidates register with their respective councils. Medium term interventions are aimed at feeding the skills pipeline and ensuring a steady supply of potential Built Environment Professionals. Long term interventions are focused on future needs that ensure quality, effectiveness and sustainability.

It was emphasised that, at school level, there should be career awareness by Built Environment Professionals and the Department of Basic Education at an early school level. Then, there should be continuous mentoring and assistance to students entering tertiary institutions and financial and social support should be given to students. At the workplace, the CBE maintained that in-service training under a formal training contract is the final step towards qualification as a professional.

Attendees asked the CBE to furnish them with the true reflection of the numbers of graduates and professionals in the built environment and what has transpired after the resolutions that were taken after the 2010 Indaba. They wanted to know:

why are numbers declining in the Landscape Architectural Profession

has the CBE come across fraudulent and fake institutions

what is the definition of “candidate and unregistered persons”

how is the recognition of prior learning going to be made realistic

what are the biggest stumbling blocks in the transformation agenda

what is the percentage of graduates coming out of universities in terms of getting employment or starting their own businesses.

Ms Priscilla Mdlalose, Acting CEO (CBE), reported that the CBE and DPW have taken the resolutions of the Indaba seriously and tried to mobilise the industry to implement the skills pipeline strategy. It is important for stakeholders to work together in order to make an impact. It is also important that professionals not only get registered, but the focus should also be on school systems because this could not be done by DPW and councils only. The Department of Basic Education should play a role and look at the quality of mathematics given to Grade 12 learners. Maths literacy?

Mr Ehrard Visser, Transformation Manager: CBE, added that the figures are a reflection of the trends that happened from 2010 to 2015. The decline in the numbers in SACAP is due to the cancellation of the registration fees, which are too high. Candidates are now encouraged to pay in instalments, instead of paying a lump sum. Funding remains a critical issue and Councils are struggling with the system of reporting to make it similar to the PFMA. In addition, the tracking of candidates from universities to registration with Councils is another challenge because there are gaps in the reporting of information.


Meeting summary


  1. Transformation is only in government
  2. Who is monitoring transformation?
  3. Government is only listening to money
  4. What has changed?
  5. No progress reports
  6. No trust

Improvements we would like to see

  1. Township economy development
  2. Value for money
  3. Tax matters
  4. Service delivery
  5. Economic development
  6. Integrated transport
  7. Adequate housing
  8. Good basic education
  9. Electricity (no load shedding)
  10. Liveable basic salary  


M.A. Mohidien