Since the appearance of the brief article in the April 2006 issue of the SADJ about the appointment of the registrar of deeds for the Nelspruit Deeds Registry, deeds office corridors across the country have been abuzz with rumours, speculations and expectations around the feasibility and success of the new deeds office.
Many unanswered questions repeated themselves, such as:
- Have they found a building yet?
- What about staff members?
- Moving of files?
- Where is he seated right now?
- Will they prefer experienced deeds office staff or any suitably qualified person?
- Who is assisting him?
- Will it take away the overtime from the Pretoria Deeds Office?
- How long do we still have to wait?
By the way, one question is now answered:
* Where is he seated for the purposes of the project?
The Pretoria Deeds Office.
An interface with the Registrar of Deeds for the Nelspruit Deeds Registry will demystify the whole issue.
After several failed attempts to corner him into an interview, the elusive, busy Registrar finally succumbed to SADJ's appointment on the morning of 31 July 2006.
Mr Lenthis du Pont, Registrar of Deeds for the Nelspruit Deeds Office, honoured SADJ and the readers with the following interview with SADJ's representative, Mr Wiseman Bhuqa (law lecturer at Justice College):
Mr Bhuqa: First and foremost, congratulations on your appointment as Registrar of Deeds for the up-and-coming Nelspruit Registry and thank you in advance for pioneering one of the biggest projects of
our sub-directorate. Your achievement is worth more pages than the SADJ can afford.
Mr du Pont: Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity and thanks for your time as well.
Mr Bhuqa asks the following questions:
Q: Tell us about yourself with particular regard to your career and theupward mobility that has seen you attain this important position.
A: I started my career in the Cape Town Deeds Registry as a Principal Deeds Controller in 1996. While still serving my articles, I was fortunate to have a very efficient and strong supervisor; I worked in the registration section for one year, and thereafter attended deeds examining classes under a very good training officer, who gave me a solid examination foundation. I got promoted to Chief Deeds Controller, which post I held for at least four years; thereafter I was promoted to lecturer of law in the Johannesburg Deeds Registry. I left the Johannesburg Deeds Registry on my promotion to Deputy Registrar of Deeds in Cape Town, a post I held for at least three years. When the first advertisement for the post of Registrar of Deeds for Nelspruit Deeds Registry came through, I was very hesitant to apply.
Q: Why did you hesitate to apply for the post?
A: Because I was under the impression that I did not satisfy the required EE target as per relevant EE plan. Eventually, I applied and got the position.
Q: What other qualifications do you hold?
A: I hold a BProc Degree from the University of Pretoria, an LLB degree from Unisa and an LLM degree from Unisa. I have also worked for the Department of Justice as a Maintenance Officer, Department of Home Affairs and Rentmeester Insurance Company as an Administration Clerk while doing my studies.
Q: Your appointment is not only strategic but also historic within the profession of deeds registration. How do you feel being the man behind this mammoth task?
A: I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to establish and take charge of the Nelspruit Deeds Registry.
Q: What is the justification behind the founding of the Nelspruit Deeds Registry in particular? Are DLD's not strategically delivering? Why only Nelspruit and not Limpopo as well?
A: I would say Nelspruit is only the starting point of a strategic process. I would like to refer you to our strategic plan, where you will appreciate that the Chief Directorate is trying to provide access to the people by establishing more deeds registries as a service delivery and access initiative. This emanates from a political decision contained in the Minister's speech about taking services to the people. Look, DLD (District Land Delivery) offices do not provide half the services of a fully-fledged deeds registry, so it is in the true interest of service delivery that more and more deeds registries are established.
Q: Are you getting enough support from your project team and from other experienced Registrars of Deeds?
A: Indeed, I get full support particularly from the Registrar of Deeds for Pretoria, guidance and support from the Registrar of Deeds for Vryburg and also from the Chief Registrar of Deeds and his staff.
Q: Wouldn't your task be a lot easier if you had already appointed a Deputy Registrar to assist you and acclimatise him/herself and reach a similar level of readiness?
A: This is a difficult question but, yes it would be a lot easier. However, the project committee took a unanimous decision to fill the above position during the course of the project when the issue of accommodation has been addressed, for instance, but I personally think the former would be a better way to go.
Q: On which Surveyor General's office are you going to rely for your cadastral information, e.g. diagrams, general plans, etc?
A: There is already a Surveyor General's office in Nelspruit. I think it is a year old. We have met with this office and discussed our project. We are going to be housed separately from this office, but eventually there will be one building for all the directorate's offices in Nelspruit. That's a long-term goal.
Q: Which shared Service Centre is going to serve your Deeds Registry?
A: None. We will use the National Office for our procurement needs.
Q: The main duty of a registrar of deeds is to take charge of a deeds registry. However, you are one of a very few to have to take charge of the actual establishment of a deeds registry; do you perhaps feel that you are performing far beyond expectation, for which you deserve special recognition?
A: Not, definitely not beyond expectation. I am of the opinion that colleagues in the other offices, especially the bigger offices, have a more difficult job than establishing a new deeds registry. This is indeed a difficult job but I draw support from them and would therefore not say I deserve special recognition.
Q: Could you give a brief account on the project of establishment of the said deeds registry, particularly the progress thus far, e.g. have you secured buildings, archives, equipment, recruitment plans, staff training plans, conveyancer registrations, where are you based, what is your project handing-over date, etc?
A: Since our first project meeting we have achieved major strides like the development of a project plan, encompassing key objectives like record keeping, accommodation and IT. My tender application for acquisition of the building already closed on 12 July 2006. I viewed the building in October 2006 and requested the landlord to make certain structural changes to the building that will suit the needs of a Deeds Registry. It is envisaged that the building will be ready for occupation at the end of March 2007. We have secured an archiving plan, sorted out registers for agricultural holdings, separated sectional scheme files and township files and we are in the process of making copies of interdicts. On completion, we are going to transfer all these records to the new deeds registry. As far as procurement is concerned, we have identified the following items to be procured: server, scanner, archive writer and microfilm equipment. The latter could take a while longer to procure because of the cost involved, which is the reason why we have started the procurement process early. Recruitment plan: yes, we have one in place. As far as staff training is concerned, the Chief Registrar of Deeds and Deeds Training (Justice College) will assist, while a law lecturer will also be appointed. As far as conveyancer registration is concerned, we have already had a meeting with the conveyancers of Mpumalanga. The target date for the completion of the whole process is 31 March 2007 or hopefully before that date.
Q: Are the buildings a new construction or an existing public works property?
A: We will enter into a lease accommodation agreement with the Department of Public Works.
Q: Have you been allocated enough time to complete your project?
A: There is never enough time for anything, but we are working very hard to complete the project promptly.
Q: Did you have to design the project on your own or is there a private project designer involved? Please take us through the team list and relative attributes.
A: Own, no outside service provider. We have designed a very effective work breakdown structure. Look, we have an abundance of experience and efficiency in our project team to drive this project, members boast years of experience. Perhaps I must reveal my project team to you, namely: myself (Mr L du Pont (Registrar of Deeds Nelspruit)), Mr G Hattingh (Registrar: Financial Services of the Chief Registrar of Deeds), Mr H Geldenhuys (Registrar: Legal Support and Training of the Office of the Chief Registrar of Deeds), Mr S Mekwe (Law Lecturer), Mr A Venter (Human Resource Management), Mrs Bongers (MASS), Mr T van Reenen (Financial Services), Ms I Singo (Financial Services), Ms D Motuba (Human Resource Office of the Chief Registrar of Deeds), Mr M Ramahuta (Communications), Mr N Koloti (GITO office), Mr B Sadiki (Security Services), Mr P Mesefo (Registrar of Deeds, Pretoria Deeds Registry) and Mr A Sepp (Office of the Chief Registrar of Deeds).
Q: Rumours have it that you are a seasoned project manager; have you launched any other big projects in this directorate before, from which you may draw essential skills?
A: Definitely not. The project committee, not me, is very helpful and has an abundance of experience. I have no idea where such rumours originate.
Q: Just how big is the Nelspruit Deeds Registry going to be, in terms of the staff complement, perceived lodgements, and municipal districts to be served?
A: The office is going to be 51 staff members strong, with 20% of the work transferred from the Pretoria Deeds Registry in addition to the projected work. It is estimated that the daily lodgement will be between 600 and 1,000 deeds.
Q: Are there any possibilities of cross-border disputes that may threaten and hamper your progress in the Mpumalanga province?
A: None, we will follow the demarcation board's jurisdiction. Should they re-demarcate boundaries, we will follow.
Q: Do you have any plans to steal the most experienced staff from the other existing deeds registries to consolidate the success of the new deeds registry?
A: Steal - no, but if they want to come, they are most welcome. All posts will be advertised during January 2007.
Q: Having been a law lecturer yourself, you will definitely appreciate the advantage of kick-starting your recruitment process with, inter alia, the post of law lecturer. Do you have any particular targets in mind?
A: Nobody in mind. Our Employment Equity Plan (EE plan) will prevail and we will employ the most suitable candidate.
Q: Many a deeds office employee will associate the employment of a young, AA- target registrar like yourself with new school, paradigm shift and a democratic management lifestyle. Do you foresee an exodus of the present deeds office personnel to Mpumalanga for greener pastures?
A: Anyone willing to play a role is welcome to make his or her contribution. I do not want to sound like I am pre-supposing that there are problems with the current deeds registries that might not surface in the Nelspruit Deeds Registry.
Q: Have you met any local stakeholders and, if so, what is their feeling about their own Deeds Registry?
A: We have implemented a communication plan, and based on that we have met with the local conveyancers. They have expressed great excitement and pledged their utmost support.
Q: What is your targeted pool of recruits likely to be, between the locals who deserve the benefit of this job opportunity on the one hand, and the deeds office hopefuls who want to advance career-wise on the other?
A: Job creation is currently pivotal , especially to the people of Mpumalanga. Look, the majority of staff will be recruited from Mpumalanga in step with job creation purposes; however, we will prefer experienced staff to fill such essential ranks like Chief Deeds Controller, Assistant Registrar, Deputy Registrar, etc.
Q: With Nelspruit currently being serviced by the Pretoria Deeds Registry and yourself, the registrar, coming from a Cape Town Deeds Registry background, which deeds office culture is Nelspruit Deeds Registry likely to inherit?
A: I will be very diplomatic on this one: let the office develop its own unique culture, although personally I would have liked it to develop a mixed hybrid of Cape Town- Johannesburg-Pretoria influence, or the best of the three kinds of culture.
Q: As irony would have it; the word "Mpumalanga" means the place where the sun rises; then what is your vision of the new Nelspruit Deeds Registry in the light of organisational transformation, particularly with regard to EE and service delivery?
A: An EE representative office that boasts excellent service delivery. An organisational structure that allows exceptional staff participation at all levels.
Q: What sort of output can you promise the hundreds of Deeds Office personnel and your prospective external clients once your office is in operation?
A: Excellent service delivery.
Q: How different is the Nelspruit Deeds Office going to be from the rest in terms of management style and general employee relations?
A: I believe there should be good all-round relations between management and staff on the one hand and between staff members inter se on the other. I will build an organisation built on values. You know, like integrity, mutual respect, honesty and good work ethics.
Q: Are there any other important issues that you feel the readers should be aware of regarding the task at hand?
A: I just want the readers to know that we have made very good progress thus far; everything is under control and people may even feel free to give advice or any positive contribution towards the realisation of this project.
Q: Other than this journal, what other means of communication can an average staff member utilise to keep abreast with developments on this project?
A: Actually, we need to improve on this one by creating a communication strategy to run parallel with the project. We could use this journal to report on a quarterly basis.
Q: That brings us to the end of our interview. Once more on behalf of SADJ, congratulations, thank you and all the best; I'm quite positive the entire subdirectorate rallies behind you in great anticipation.
A: Thank you very much for your time and this opportunity.
Republished with permission from the March 2007 edition of the SA Deeds Journal