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'Illegal' sale of land for RDP homes

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illegal land sale

INLSA

Leratong village is one of two properties where questionable documents were used by the Mogale City municipality to Pretoria developer Trendville Investments last May. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - The Mogale City municipality and the Gauteng local government and housing department have sold land earmarked for the construction of RDP houses to a private developer for R20 million.

The municipality used what appears to be questionable supporting documents to transfer the land to a Pretoria property developer, Trendville Investments, on May 17 last year.

In a document with the heading “power of attorney to pass transfer”, seen by The Star, municipal manager Dan Mashitisho said the decision to sell the land was taken at a full council meeting on October 19, 2006.

The Star requested the minutes of that meeting, and council spokesman Nkosana Zali said no such meeting had been held.

In the document dated May 31, 2011, Mashitisho also claims he had received permission to sell the land from the Gauteng Local Government and Housing’s head of department, Mongezi Mnyani.

The “special power of attorney” section of the document seen by The Star appears to be signed by former MEC for local government and housing Humphrey Mmemezi.

He granted the municipality powers to attend to all town planning matters of the two portions of disputed land.

In the document he appears to have signed, Mmemezi also granted the municipality powers to sell the land. The document indicated that Mmemezi granted the municipality these powers on May 16, 2011.

In the documents, in the deeds office in Pretoria, Mmemezi seems to have signed in his capacity as department of local government and housing head.

He had been in office as MEC for six months when he allegedly misrepresented himself to the law firm and Trendville Investments.

Mashitisho and Mmemezi appear to have made their statements under oath before conveyancer Cynthia du Plessis, of the law firm Selolo Ramashilo Inc, which handled the transaction.

The law firm has registered these statements into one file, with seal number 1530 as proof of confirmation of the land sale deal.

Trendville Investments are recipients of various other tenders from the Mogale City municipality.

Before the controversial sale, there had been various developments on the pieces of land.

- The Gauteng government had already constructed 472 RDP units.

- The City of Joburg had also serviced the properties with water, sewerage and electricity.

- In March last year, the City of Joburg had already appointed town planners to submit a township application on the two properties.

- In addition, there are two settlements within the two properties, namely Leratong Village and Leratong Servitude.

Officials of the City of Joburg discovered the alleged fraud in November last year, when they were there to continue servicing the land.

Sello Mothotoana wrote to the provincial housing department shortly thereafter.

“In our view, the department must investigate the validity of this transaction (land purchase) to enable the City of Johannesburg to communicate the right message to the occupants with the two properties,” he said.

Asked for comment on the matter, Gauteng local government and housing spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa said the matter on the allegedly illegal sale of the land had been referred to the Hawks for investigation.

Motlhaolwa was answering questions on behalf of Mnyani and the new MEC, Ntombi Mekgwe.

Zali, responding on behalf of Mogale City mayor Calvin Seerane and Mashitisho, insisted that Mogale City had undertaken a legitimate transaction, saying Mnyani had allowed the land sale.

“We have no correspondence on this land transfer that is signed by former MEC Mmemezi.”

Zali provided a different “special power of attorney” copy, purportedly signed by Mnyani and dated May 31, 2011, in which Mnyani allegedly allows them to sell the land.

However, this second document does not have an official stamp of a law firm responsible for the land-sale transaction.

Zali claimed that the R20m was placed in the municipality’s coffers.

Mmemezi also rejected all allegations of wrongdoing and threatened legal action.

baldwin.ndaba@inl.co.za

The Star


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