City of Cape Town's probe into ‘botched sale’ under way
“A forensic investigation is under way at the request of the city manager after he considered the matter. The original request for a forensic investigation into this matter, came from the deputy mayor Ian Neilson, and not Patricia de Lille,” said Luthando Tyhalibongo, spokesperson for the City.
Last month, Growthpoint met with the City’s property management department, which undertook the auction of Site B. They are of the view that Growthpoint purchased Site B for a fair price, through a transparent and legitimate process.
Growthpoint has applied to the City for planning approval for the approximately 46 000m2, which has yet to be confirmed by or agreed to by the city, and they are still awaiting the outcome of the Municipal Planning Tribunal meeting considering their application. The application is for the potential development of proposed mixed-use building with retail, offices, collaborative workspace, and a hotel.
In September social justice advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi obtained documents which raised serious questions about top City officials implicated in a so-called botched auction of the land.
The City gave notice in local newspapers of an application by Growthpoint Properties Ltd to develop Site B, 3 932m² of land on the Foreshore. Growthpoint plans to develop a 100m skyscraper. What caught the organisation’s eye in the City’s notice was that Growthpoint is asserting that it already has the rights to build 46 000m² of bulk on the land. Ndifuna Ukwazi said there was a significant loss of income.
“At R86.5 million for 17 500m², Growthpoint ostensibly paid R4 942 per bulk m². Earlier this month outgoing mayor Patricia de Lille requested that a forensic investigation takes place to look into the so-called ‘botched auction’.
Acting mayor Ian Neilson said: “I requested for full clarification and I have asked the city manager to provide this.”
Co-director at Ndifuna Ukwazi Jared Rossouw said: “Growthpoint, a company with R122 billion in assets, secured public land on the cheap. Today they said they did not know the land was undervalued when they bought it and they think they paid a fair price.
Growthpoint is sticking to its version on how it acquired Site B. The property giant said that it had no prior knowledge of any rights exceeding the 17 500m² rights for Site B, as advertised by the City and denied claims that the auction was botched.@MarvinCharles17