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 headed “power of attorney to pass transfer”, municipal manager Dan Mashitisho states that 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 but council spokesman Nkosana Zali said no such meeting had been held.

In the document dated May 31, 2011, Mashitisho states that he had 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.

The former MEC grants the municipality powers to attend to all townplanning matters of the two portions of disputed land.

In the document, which he appears to have signed, the municipality is given the power to sell the land on May 16, 2011.

Mmemezi appears 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 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 as one file with seal number 1 530 as proof of confirmation of the land-sale deal.

Trendville Investments, which is owned by John McCormick and his son, built Mogale Mall in Kagiso. They are also recipients of other tenders from Mogale City municipality.

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

l The Gauteng government had already constructed 472 RDP units.

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

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

l There are two settlements with- in 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 went there to continue implementing municipal services.

Head of planning and programming for the City of Joburg 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 in the letter.

Asked for comment, Gauteng Local Government and Housing spokesman Motsamai Motlhaolwa said the matter has been referred to the Hawks for investigation.

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

Zali 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 allows them to sell the land.

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

Zali said the R20m was placed into the municipality’s coffers.

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

“I have never signed a power of attorney in relation to any sale of government land, thus the signature which you claim is mine is obviously forged.

“I have never held the position of Head of Department: Local Government and Housing and neither have I ever presented myself anywhere as such. I advise you to forward all the documents you purport to hold to the authorities,” Mmemezi said.

Justice Selolo of Selolo Ramashilo attorneys failed to respond to questions at the time of going to press.