CANDICE BAILEY AND DIANNE HAWKER
THE sister of ANC deputy secretary general and North West premier Thandi Modise secured a deal with the Department of Public Works in the province to live in a four-bedroom state-owned property in Mafikeng for only R200 a month.
Despite this arrangement, Naledi Molete lived in the R600 000 house with her three children for over a year and only forked out R400 in rental for that year.
Molete died in June but her children are still living in the house, which is on a 1 270m2 stand in Riviera Park and also has a pool.
Modise’s spokesman, Lesiba Kgwele, last week denied Modise’s involvement in the deal.
A Public Works official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Sunday Independent the house was “not officially allocated through the department”.
“The department does not even have a copy of the main tenant’s ID,” said the official, adding that Molete’s children were yet to furnish the department with a copy of their mother’s death certificate.
The house is supposed to be reserved for senior managers in government, occupying positions of directors and higher and was seen as a “working tool” for employees.
“When there is a house vacancy, the official at the top of the list is given first choice to live there,” added the official.
The official said a decision was taken three years ago that houses would not be rented to new private tenants as it was too cumbersome a process to manage.
The official admitted that there were many private tenants renting state houses but said these were arrangements dating back three years.
According to the North West Land Administration Act, private tenants should pay 1 percent of the market-related value of the house.
The last valuation on the house priced it at R600 000 – meaning that a rental of R6 000 could be charged.
Molete, who was 58 when she died, qualified for the pensioner rental rate of R200.
The Sunday Independent has seen a copy of a receipt where Molete paid R400 for rental in April and May this year.
No one has paid rent since June.
Acting head of department Samuel Thobakgale said Molete had applied for the house, was allocated it and that a valid lease agreement was signed.
He admitted that the lease was signed after a “lengthy period of occupation” but said Molete was not at fault.
The department would investigate why officials had not collected the rental.
Documents sent to The Sunday Independent as part of a detailed response from the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport prove that Molete lived in the house from July last year.
Molete, according to the department, was only officially allocated the house in April this year. She did not pay the rental for the eight months from July last year until April this year.
Thobakgale disputed allegations that none of Molete’s children had approached the department to discuss future rental, saying her son Omphile had come forward to arrange for the payment of the lease on behalf of his siblings but was requested to wait the department’s decision.
Thobakgale said it was malicious to suggest that Modise had anything to do with the rental. He denied statements that the department had taken a decision not to rent state properties to private individuals, saying Molete was just one of several private tenants.
Of the 284 state-owned properties managed by the department, 38 are privately rented, 17 are rented by pensioners, 222 are taken up by government officials, four houses are vacant and three are illegally occupied.
Last month The Sunday Independent reported how Modise had received a 50 percent discount when she purchased an eight-bedroom, state-owned property for only R405 000 as an outdated valuation of the property was used for the sale.
The sale of the house had not gone out to tender as is required in the North West Land Administration Act.
The former Bophutatswana guest house in Mafikeng is a 2 000m2 property, now worth R2 million.
According to the 2011 valuation, the house has four self-contained living units, each with its own bathroom and toilet. One of the units also has a kitchen and lounge.
There is also a communal area consisting of a lounge, a dining room, two reception rooms, a scullery and a kitchen. The property has a swimming pool and a covered entrance porch.
Efforts to reach Omphile proved unsuccessful.