Prime Foreshore land 'undervalued', public protector called to probe
The civil society group has written to the public protector to fully investigate Site B that was severely undervalued.
“We find it incredulous that Mayor Patricia de Lille, only after the matter has reached the media and is in the public domain, is now calling for a forensic investigation. We must not forget that the mayor is a representative of the DA and the sale happened while she was mayor and Ian Nielson her deputy. Is she trying to say that she did not know about this and is now trying to distance herself? Is she doing a Pontius Pilate now that her term of office is coming to an end?” spokesperson Rod Solomons said.
This comes just two days after outgoing mayor De Lille ordered a forensic investigation into the auction of the land. De Lille said she was concerned that the city could run the risk of an audit query from the auditor-general, or someone reporting them to the public protector.
Last month, social housing advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi sounded the alarm after it obtained documents which raised serious questions about top city officials allegedly implicated in a so-called botched auction of the prime piece of land.
The city gave notice in local newspapers of an application by Growthpoint Properties Limited to develop Site B - a 3932m² piece of prime land on the Foreshore.
Growthpoint plans to develop a skyscraper that “aims to be a world-class, timeless, innovative, sustainable building which will serve to inspire future buildings”.
What caught the organisation’s eye in the city’s notice was that Growthpoint was asserting it already has the rights to build 46000m² of bulk on the land. The balance of the floating bulk on Blocks A and B is therefore approximately 46000m² and is available in the area described as Block AB, which includes the site of the Icon building.
When Block B1 was bought by Growthpoint, it only purchased 17500m² of that bulk.
In a letter sent to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane it states: “As you can see from the attached newspaper article, a respected civil society organisation has made serious allegations against the City of Cape Town municipality, in particular the Deputy Mayor, a Mr Ian Nielson for how he has disposed of one of the prime properties under the City’s stewardship.”
Solomons said the organisation has a number of questions on what transpired in the deal.
“On what grounds were those decisions taken? Were these decisions done in terms of the relevant legislative and policy frameworks? What influenced the authorities to take the decisions they did? Did the company that benefited from this so-called largesse from the City of Cape Town donate or give money to any person/entity/political party prior to or after them being sold this property?,” he said.
Public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed it had received the complaint.
“Only after an assessment will we be in a position to indicate if it will be investigated or not.”@MarvinCharles17