St Monicas home site in Bo-Kaap will be demolished for a new building in Schotsche Kloof . Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The former City mayco member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, has laid a complaint with the public protector, asking that her office investigate the sale of St Monica’s Old Age Home in Bo-Kaap.

“In early 2018 I was asked, on Twitter, how the City could sell the sites that make up St Monica’s home. The question was being asked in the context of an urgent need to address inner-city affordable housing and the need to mitigate gentrification in the Bo-Kaap. I was unaware of the sale of the sites, and requested information. While I was on the council and a mayco member, I was never able to get a plausible explanation,” said Herron. 

He added that the sites were transferred to the St Monica’s Trust with a reversionary clause. This clause required that the sites be returned to the City if the home stopped operating. “The home stopped operating, and the reversionary clause should have applied. These extremely well-located and valuable sites should have reverted to the City to be used for the public good.

“After leaving the council, I received information that the reversionary clause had been abandoned by the City in return for payment of R14 million,” he said.

Developers initially intended to demolish the former St Monica’s Old-Age Home in Lion Street. Netcovax developers, looking to begin construction at the site, made an application to Heritage Western Cape to determine the historical significance of some of the buildings that were older than 60 years. “I have referred this, and other land deals, to the public protector with a request that she investigate whether the sale of the reversionary clause was lawful.”

Secretary of the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association Jackie Poking the said the association had been saying for years that there was something wrong with the sale of the land.

“We were shocked when we heard it had been sold, and have been trying to get answers ever since. We trust that the public protector will leave no stone unturned to get the community answers,” she said.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said officials were prepared to co-operate with any investigation by the public protector. 

The public protector’s office said it would provide feedback today.

@MarvinCharles17

Cape Argus