Supporting Seniors Together: a collaboration with iKamva Labantu

On the 11th and 12th of October, the Tenure Support Centre (TSC) collaborated with iKamva Labantu’s Senior Clubs to hold title deed clinics in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha. We set up ‘pop-up’ offices at iKamva’s centres to address the title deed issues of their elderly members who ordinarily struggle to visit our walk-in support office in Khayelitsha.

The three most common issues addressed during the clinics included the transfer of properties from deceased estates, rectifying title deed errors, and drafting Wills.

The clinics were a success and over the two days we welcomed and assisted around 30 new clients. This event marks the second series of clinics held with iKamva Labantu this year, reaffirming the close partnership we have established between the two projects since the inception of the TSC in 2018.

Together, we aim to work timelessly to empower and uplift communities, driving positive transformation. iKamva Labantu’s commitment to ensuring every member of our community can live with dignity and security aligns with the TSC’s mission to empower individuals through resolving their title deed-related issues.

FNB and Khayelitsha-based housing support office partner to help township homeowners resolve title deed problems

Many lower-income homeowners in South Africa have problems with their title deed. Government’s extensive primary transfer backlog, coupled with an inaccessible and expensive formal property transfer system, have resulted in millions of South Africans owning homes for which they don’t possess clear legal title.  This undermines their security of tenure and compromises their ability to pass these homes on to their heirs, increasing the risk of conflict and disputes. Properties without clean, undisputed title, cannot be mortgaged either by buyers who need finance to afford the property or by homeowners who wish to build or improve their properties. This limits the economic potential of these property assets. Moreover, disputes over property ownership are common, creating uncertainty and instability in vulnerable neighbourhoods.

This is the challenge the Khayelitsha-based Tenure Support Centre (TSC) aims to resolve. The TSC is a housing support office which provides hands-on assistance to individuals with title deed problems. It opened its doors in mid-2018 and, with the support of FNB, now operates its walk-in support office from the FNB branch in Khayelitsha Mall.

“FNB has provided us with a professional, safe space to operate from and an easily accessible point of contact for our clients to seek assistance. Operating from a bank branch also reinforces our message to clients that their homes and properties are important financial assets. Sorting out any title deed issues is the first step in maximising the value of that asset”, says Lisa Hutsebaut, the TSC’s conveyancer

The TSC deals with a range of title deed issues, the most common being the transfer of properties from deceased owners to rightful heirs, regularising informal or off-register sales, and assisting clients who have never received their title deeds from the Government.

The TSC, which started out as a pilot, action-research initiative in 2018, has grown into a more permanent housing support office serving clients in Khayelitsha but also surrounding areas. It initially operated out of a community centre which was vandalised during COVID. The team tested a remote working model, but there was a clear need for a trusted, physical space for clients to deliver and sign the necessary legal paperwork.  “The face-to-face interaction with clients is also critical to building trust in the process. FNB really stepped in for us when we found ourselves at a crossroads, without a space to operate from and unsure if the project could continue,” says Illana Melzer from 71point4 Consulting, co-founder of the TSC project.

“We’re excited about the potential to replicate this model in our other branches and extend access to this critical service to more homeowners across the country. We are well aware that the title deed crisis in South Africa materially constrains wealth accumulation and economic development in so many low-income neighbourhoods. It also slows the growth of our future market for mortgages.” says Mfundo Mabaso, Growth Head at FNB.

To date the TSC has interacted with over 1 000 walk-in-clients, successfully resolving title deed problems for over 300 of these clients. At the same time as responding to individual walk-in client cases, the TSC runs projects to address underlying structural problems in the market. An example of this includes a large-scale enumeration and subsidy beneficiary validation project conducted with the City of Cape Town in 2019 involving 780 properties in Makhaza, Khayelitsha where title deeds had not yet been issued by Government. Almost 500 of these properties have now been formally transferred from Government to the rightful owners.

The TSC is currently a joint initiative of 71point4 Consulting and the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, with funding provided by Oppenheimer Generations and the First Rand Empowerment Foundation Trust.

To find out more about the TSC project, visit: or follow the TSC on Linkedin, Facebook or Instagram.

For help with a title deed issue, clients can contact the TSC on Whatsapp (065 041 6832) or email (

The TSC currently serves clients with properties based in Cape Town but clients based elsewhere are welcome to contact the team who will do their best to try and assist.

Any questions related to the TSC project can be directed to:

  • Illana Melzer –
  • Kecia Rust –

A Glimmer of Hope: The Deceased Estates Process goes digital

At the Tenure Support Centre (TSC), we understand the challenges that individuals face when it comes to dealing with title deed problems. One of the most prevalent issues we encounter is transferring properties from deceased owners to successors in title. The Master’s office plays a crucial role in this process, but it has been plagued by inefficiencies, a lack of transparency, and frustratingly long turnaround times. However, there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

On the 10th of October 2023, Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, launched the Master’s Office Deceased Estate Online Registration System, a development that promises to change the landscape of estate management in South Africa. This digital system aims to make the process more efficient and accessible, a much-needed change from the current slow and manual processes. 

We tracked the elapsed time on 64 document requests submitted by the TSC to the Masters Office since June 2021. These are primarily requests for Letters of Authority and Next-of-Kin affidavits, two crucial documents required to wind up estates. The results are rather disheartening. To date, we have received 25% of the documents requested, with an average elapsed time of 7 to 8 months. More shockingly, 23% of these document requests have been outstanding for more than a year.

A Streamlined Solution: The Deceased Estates Online Registration System

Losing a loved one is devastating. On top of this, the arduous process of winding up the estate has been a further hardship that families have had to endure. The new online estate reporting system launched by the Department of Justice attempts to address this. Masters Office Chief Director Advocate Kanyane Mathibe emphasized the system’s objective in an interview on Newzroom Afrika[1]: “The system is aimed to reduce some of the challenges that we’ve experienced in the Masters Office and that clients have experienced as well”. She pointed out that grieving family members have typically had to visit the Master’s Office in person within 14 days of a loved one’s passing to report an estate with the Master of High Court. The new system eliminates this and allows clients or their representatives to report estates and request documents digitally.

Clients will be able to access the system from anywhere, receiving notifications via SMS and documents by email, reducing the time required to report an estate and eliminating costs required to travel to the Masters Office. According to Advocate Kanyane Mathibe, the current manual process means that clients can generate a letter of executorship or authority within 21 working days. In reality this is seldom achieved, with clients often waiting months for these documents to be issued.  The Masters Office says that with the online system this time frame will be reduced to as little as two days.

The Master’s Office is also taking steps to ensure that elderly individuals, those without access to devices or those who are less tech-savvy and prefer face-to-face interaction are accommodated. Both self-service kiosks and staff-assisted kiosks are being set up to provide support to those who may need it. Initially the system will process requests submitted via the digital platform in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria and will gradually expand to other regions. Users can register on the platform.

A further benefit of the system is that appointments can now be booked online with estate controllers and assistant Masters at the Masters Office. This should unblock deceased estates that get stuck in the system.

While this new online system is a very promising development, our initial testing of the system has been less than encouraging. System glitches have hindered our ability to register on the system and the Department of Home Affairs server has been out of action for much of the first week of the online system going live. Of course, glitches are not uncommon and often plague new system launches. We hope these bugs are resolved speedily and that the system soon performs as envisaged.