File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA).
eThekwini Municipality has been accused of reneging on a multimillion-rand deal which would have alleviated its shortage of burial land.

The municipality has said it could only accommodate 5000 bodies before it ran out of space at the end of the year and said alternatives like deep sea burials would have to be considered.

Former employee Kwazi Mbili alleged the municipality promised to buy two tracts of land from him in Hammarsdale and Cato Ridge.

Mbili, the managing director of Amabhubesi Property Holdings, said in April last year he received an email from Slindile Ndlovu from the Cemeteries and Crematoria Unit informing him of the city’s plans to purchase.

“This is to inform you and your partners that eThekwini Municipality is interested in acquiring the two pieces of land - we are currently at the stage of evaluation and sale agreement - should all go well - the process will be finalised in two weeks’ time.”

Mbili said his company had entered into negotiations with the municipality on the basis they had identified an international investor who was prepared to enter into a joint venture with Amabubesi and together they would develop cemeteries in Kwazulu Natal.

He said the city-appointed valuer priced his Hammarsdale plot at R10.4 million while a second valuation, which Mbili said was done at the request of the municipality by chief financial officer Krish Kumar, who valued the property at R3.7m.

Mbili brought in a third valuer at his expense and the property was valued at R12.5m. The Cato Ridge property was valued at R91.7m by the city appointed valuer, while a second opinion valued the land at R23m. The third opinion sought by Mbili said it was worth R84m.

Last November, Mbili lodged a complaint with city manager Sipho Nzuza in which he accused Kumar and deputy head of valuations and acquisitions Clive Munien of “blocking” the transactions.

This week, spokesperson Mswakhe Mayisela said the municipality was not aware of any complaint lodged with the city manager against Kumar and Munien for allegedly pulling the plug on the purchase of land from Amabhubesi and denied it had been in negotiations with the company.

The Sunday Tribune contacted Kumar, who said: “I reject the allegations.”

Political Bureau