File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)
The directors of a company owning property in Inanda intended to build low-cost housing units in the area, but they claimed that the “Mafia-style tactics” used by eThekwini officials and subsequent land grabs scuppered those plans.

Mohamed Suleman, spokesperson of Crownhill Properties, said certain municipal officials attempted to use strong-arm tactics to prise away the 77-hectare property with a reduced offer. Suleman said their proposed development of 1301 low-cost houses in Inanda had previously received the required authorisation before the project eventually ran aground.

In 2010, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform offered Crownhill R9.825 million for their property, an offer which was rejected. The municipality then made a bid for the land in 2013.

The municipality engaged an independent evaluator to assess their property before a city official made a R4.57m offer. An official allegedly told the directors of Crownhill that if they did not accept the offer, it would be expropriated without compensation.

Suleman said they rejected the offer. The company’s own assessment yielded a value of R40m. Suleman claimed that another municipal official attempted to talk him into lowering his assessment.

In September 2014, the municipal official who previously made the R4.5m offer did so again.

When Crownhill stood its ground, the official allegedly said: “I’ll show you what I can do.” Suleman said numerous land grabs occurred on their property and they believed that official hadacted on his threat.

Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the offer was made by professionals from eThekwini’s real estate unit, but the owners had declined the offer.

Sunday Tribune