It was Sizakele Majola’s mother who got her into the inner city low-cost accommodation business.
“My mom had a project that was financed by TUHF,” she explains. “But she didn’t drive, so I would drive her to events hosted by TUHF. And, of course, while I was there, I listened to what was going on and what was being said. And now I am a TUHF client myself.”
In 2013 Majola identified an opportunity – a small apartment building in the heart of Hillbrow, on the corner of Banket and Kapteijn streets. The building, Minfield Flats, had been virtually hijacked and was in a dreadful condition, rubbish filling its passages and exposed live electrical cables posing a real danger to the people living there.
Buying the building was the relatively easy part of Majola’s first venture into low-income rental accommodation. Turning the building around, fixing it up and making it a sustainable investment would prove much harder. “That is why TUHF was so important to me,” says the City of Johannesburg emergency services professional. “TUHF was realistic; they helped me to plan what the building would cost to renovate, what all the other expenses would be and what cash flow I could expect.” (Majola paid R1.8 million for Minfield Flats and budgeted R650 000 to renovate it.)
TUHF also advised the new property entrepreneur on the processes involved in having the building vacated so that the builders and renovators could move in. Working through the Housing Tribunal an eviction order was obtained and executed. By July 2014 the once dilapidated Minfield Flats had been transformed; 29 smart new units (including three small ground- floor spaza shops) had been carved out of the once decaying property; a fire escape meeting SABS standards and access control had been installed and tenants had already moved in, paying R1 300 and R2 500 for the 12m and 18m2 studio flats.
Immaculate Painters & Renovations had just a month in which to transform Minfield. As project manager Mandla Radebe explained, the work included getting rid of a passage that ran from the front of the building to the rear and that served no real purpose other than to provide dark recesses that undermined the building’s security. The space claimed from the passage was used to enlarge the apartments while the builders also installed communal sinks and shelves and bathrooms for each group of four flats.
To illustrate what a terrible state Minfield was in at the time that he and his crew of 15 came on site, Radebe mentions that some 2.4 tons of rubbish was removed from the passages. (Rubble removed from Minfield during the month-long renovation filled ten truckloads.)
Apart from 15 Immaculate employees, more than a dozen sub-contractors were on site at any one time, carrying out electrical work, plumbing, carpentry, tiling and welding, each sub-contractor employing four to six people on the job, according to Radebe.
Since July 2014, Minfield Flats has employed three full-time staff – a security person, a cleaner and a caretaker. The three small spaza shops are leased by informal traders for R3500 per month, their presence boosting security and creating a welcome measure of economic activity.
The new owner is proud of the impact her hard work and investment are having on a small corner of teeming Hillbrow. “This is one of the hardest places in the city in which to do business,” Majola says. “But you can make money if you manage and control the place properly, and make sure that your tenants feel they are living in a good, secure place and that they are being well looked after.
“TUHF have looked after me exceptionally well – especially [CEO] Paul Jackson and [loan officer] Rekwele Mmatli – andI intend to look after my building and my tenants just as well.”
From our 2014 Annual Report