Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille. Picture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The government has paid R1.1 billion for property rates on buildings between April 2018 and March 2019.

Of the R1.1 billion paid in the last financial year, R1 089 178 346 was for buildings under the custodianship of the Public Works and Infrastructure Department and R36 597 824 for unoccupied buildings.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille also said the government has paid R157 311 556 for property rates on occupied and unoccupied buildings from April 2019 until last month.

De Lille said R157 171 773 was for paid for occupied buildings and R139 783 for unoccupied buildings.

She revealed this in a written response to parliamentary questions from Freedom Front Plus MP Philippus van Staden.

De Lille also said the department has 81 575 buildings under its custodianship and 703 were unoccupied.

She stated that the 81 575 buildings under her department's custodianship have maintenance backlog to varying degrees.

"The maintenance backlog is estimated at R74 billion and the actual cost could be confirmed once a full condition assessment of each building is conducted.

"Due to budget constraints and limited budget allocated for maintenance of national government buildings, various funding partnerships and focused plans would be required to eradicate the backlog on maintenance," she said.

De Lille said her department was considering public-private partnerships to assist the department with repair and maintenance.

Asked reasons for non-occupation of the buildings, De Lille said the state could not allow all its properties to be occupied in anticipation of future and urgent user requirements.

"In addition, state-owned properties under the custodianship of the department may be earmarked for allocation to other departments or spheres of government for restitution and land reform, human settlements.

"In cases where there is no immediate need for the properties the department avails identified properties to the public for letting," she said.

Meanwhile, the department has 161 vacant land parcels located within the City of Cape Town.

De Lille said there were 26 properties in the list identified to be required for restitution programme. 

"From the 26 properties, nine  properties were already released and 17 properties still outstanding," she said in a written response to DA MP Hendrik Krüger.

The minister said there was public land in the custodianship of all three spheres of Government.

"Land will be released guided by the land reform programme subject to all administrative processes."

Political Bureau