A HOUSING project in Uitenhage has stalled because of the rampant theft of building material. Now, developers and community members are blaming each other about the lack of progress at the Chris Hani Ramaphosa project.
Developers claim they cannot complete the project as people keep stealing material.
But a group of women are accusing the developers of sabotaging the project by stealing their own building material.
On Saturday, KwaNobuhle police arrested three suspects for housebreaking and theft. They have also recovered most of the stolen items from some community members.
Marla Builders owner Marius Olivier was contracted by the municipality to build 200 RDP houses in the area, to be completed in June.
On Thursday last week, Olivier's foreman told him paint and eight plumbing kits worth more than R20000 had been stolen. Olivier called on the community to supply the police with information.
When The Herald visited the site, a group of women, singing revolutionary songs, said Olivier knew what had happened to the paint and plumbing kits.
Ntombekhaya Daku said they just wanted the houses they had been promised. "Other developers have completed their houses. Olivier can avoid this stealing by securing the site," Daku said.
Olivier proposed that the residents act as security guards, but this did not go down well with them.
"We cannot be his watchdogs. We were supposed to move to our houses in June but nothing has happened," Daku said.
The 42-year-old also said the houses were already showing cracks, while some were not even built yet.
"Nobody can just steal 32 buckets of paint. He just wants to delay the process further. He knows what happened to all the stolen paint," Daku said.
Councillor Manelisi Vumazonke confirmed the delays.
"Some of the delays were caused by the shacks that were placed in the wrong area. There was also an issue of contractors being paid late," he said.
"We are here to deliver houses for the people but if they keep stealing from us the project will be delayed. I am glad the police have arrested the suspects. I have also secured the premises and hired night guards."
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Marianette Olivier confirmed that a case of theft and housebreaking had been opened. She said following a tip-off three people were arrested at the weekend and 13 drums of paint had been recovered.