Two Jews paying it forward

  • Feldman PerryHOME
Perry Feldman, pictured, is one of the last remaining Jews in the Free State town of Parys, a retired farmer and a passionate volunteer at the Free Market Foundation (FMF), where he has been instrumental in providing home ownership for over 500 people. In two months that will be 750 people and by year's end 850 at least. Perry and his long-time friend Terry Markman are really making a difference - and they have set themselves some lofty goals. Read this story...
by ANT KATZ | May 20, 2015

Feldman is the manager of the FMF’s Khaya Lam (my house) project, which aims to create transformation through helping people with the legal process of getting title deeds to their properties.

Some years ago, FMF Executive Director, Leon Louw, stumbled onto the fact that an enormous number of recipients of RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme) properties lived on land that belonged to their municipalities.

Feldman Perry

RIGHT: The FMF’s Perry Feldman, left, and Terry Markman

Feldman investigated the matter in his own backyard, the Ngwathe Municipality (Parys, Heilbron and some smaller towns) and found that the cost of conveyancing - a minimum of R6,500 - was a major roadblock. So they streamlined the system, brought the cost down to R1,850 and, to date, have managed to normalise ownership for so many residents in Ngwathe.

Before, these properties had no rateable value and their “owners” had no asset, says Feldman. The “wealth effect” in Ngwate is that they are turning R75 million of “dead” capital into “real” capital that can be used as collateral by the owners, and they are increasing Ngwathe's rateable value by the same amount.

FMF are working on the title deeds to a further 350 homes in the next few months. It has taken several years to reach the 850-mark, says Terry Markman, who has been with the FMF for 35-odd years. Markman is a member of the Sandton Jewish community and long-time friend of Feldman’s. He co-opted Feldman to become involved in, and later manage the project.

The pilot study for the first 100 houses was funded by FNB Bank who have recently sponsored a further 200 houses. The momentum is now growing, says Markman, and funders are coming to the fore. Interest is high among banks, philanthropists like Christo Wiese and farmers. With new funding from Wiese, another 100 homes in Langa, near Cape Town, will be transferred shortly.  “People who own property don’t burn property,” says Free State farmer Kobus Dannhauser who is getting his labour force into their own homes.

The FMF believes that at least seven million houses or stands in this country are similarly affected. And the vast majority of the “owners” believe they do hold title.

For the most part, says Feldman, the lack of transfers has resulted from funding limitations or lack of awareness by municipalities.

“When people don’t hold title, they have no asset; they are considered un-bankable and not credit-worthy,” explains Feldman. The situation is perpetuating and people are improving other people’s land.

Feldman’s story starts out like so many South African Jews. In 1952, nine-year-old Feldman’s parents, first-generation born South Africans, moved to Parys to farm. The town had a shul, 28 Jewish families and cheder four days a week.

Alas, like all country communities, this one also dwindled; the shul was sold and today houses the Bet-El Church. “Travelling Rabbi” Moshe Silberhaft removed the Torah and the foundation stone at a ceremony attended by Larry Myers, the only survivor who had been at the shul’s original sod-turning ceremony.

Much more to come as we follow this story

Feldman PerryHOME
It took the FMF some time to identify the problems that are affecting seven to ten million SA home-"owners" and crack the code to fixing their problems. But, now that they have, they are delivering fast
Feldman Perry

The working plans of the Khaya Lam project

1 Comment

  1. 1 manfred friedman 24 May
    Well done Perry and Terry. I know how much work this project has entailed.  You are doing a great job.


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