City of Cape Town slated over ’dodgy’ R65m land deal
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Cape Town – The City has been hauled before the Office of the Public Protector over a multimillion-rand “dodgy” land deal, involving the City and the provincial government, to build houses for Dunoon residents.
This comes after Good party secretary-general Brett Herron lodged a complaint with the public protector over the deal, which cost nearly R65 million.
The 17-hectare portion of Racing Park Industrial West land was unsuitable for housing as it was a wetland, said Herron.
It was bought three years ago on an urgent basis - but to date no construction has taken place.
Herron claimed the land was bought at a grossly inflated price. He said that it had overflowed the area’s borders and spilled on to Transnet freight rail land.
He said the City already owned a suitable site to build houses for the Dunoon community.
“Although the City already owned a suitable site on nearby Potsdam Road, reserved for housing, former MEC for Human Settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela and City of Cape Town Mayco member Xanthea Limberg curiously insisted on buying alternative land. It was ultimately purchased for the province by the Housing Development Agency.
“It is said that this land is ‘less politically sensitive’ than the Potsdam site, which is slightly closer to middle-class Table View. The area's councillor, Joy McCarthy, is on record stating that Table View did not want to become ‘Khayelitsha by the sea’,” Herron said.
He said, according to the Racing Park Owners Association (RPOA), the actual value was closer to R21 million.
RPOA chairperson Renzo Schincariol said the Housing Development Agency (HDA) and the province had been unable to show them the due diligence that was done to get to a purchase figure of R65m.
“It should be noted that Potsdam road is already overcongested, physically falling apart and unsafe with frequent smash-and-grabs. The MyCiTi has not worked in over three years. Before any housing gets built, this road needs to be attended to, otherwise it is all a waste of time,” he said.
But the City said yesterday the matter was investigated by the provincial Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), which found no wrongdoing.
“Whether Mr Herron wishes to proceed with taking it forward to the public protector, then it is his prerogative to do so,” they said.
The public protector’s spokesperson, Oupa Segwale, confirmed that they had received the complaint and were assessing it.
DA Western Cape spokesperson for Scopa and MPL Matlhodi Maseko said two independent valuations were conducted by separate companies, one which valued the land at R71m and another at R33m.
In the end, the provincial government paid R64.6m for the property.
“The reason for the lower second evaluation is that the company made an error in assuming that the land was not zoned for industrial purposes. As such, it valued the land at R200 per square metre rather than the market price of R600-R700 per square metre.
’’The provincial government therefore paid a fair market price for the land in question. While roughly 5.5 hectares is located on a flood plain, the majority of the land is suitable for housing development,” she said.
She slammed Herron for continuing to “pursue the issue with no merit”.
Human Settlements Department spokesperson Marcellino Martin said in April 2018 that the City approached the department to acquire the property as their procurement processes would take long and the land was required on an “urgent basis”.
“The City further confirmed that they had also investigated the property for future Doornbach expansion.
’’The bulk portion of the land is suitable for development. On the basis of the above the provincial department agreed to buy the land as per the City’s request,” he said.