The Skilpad Hall at the Tshwane Showgrounds. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
The Skilpad Hall at the Tshwane Showgrounds. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Tshwane showgrounds back in City of Tshwane’s hands

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has finally taken back the Tshwane Showgrounds, following a legal wrangle which has lasted for years with the Tshwane Business & Agricultural Corporation (Tshwabac), which owned the property until it ran into financial difficulties.

The 39-hectare showgrounds is situated in WF Nkomo Street, west of the city, and is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of rand.

A legal tussle is how the land was eventually registered back into the City’s name about a week ago.

Selby Bokaba, spokesperson for the City said: “Tthe City is currently working on a commercial model for the property.

“A detailed precinct plan has just been concluded, and it addresses the highest and best use of the property.

“We are now following internal council approvals to ensure that the property is fully optimised and leveraged.”

Tshwabac was until recently the registered owner of the property where the Tshwane Showgrounds (formerly Pretoria Showgrounds), is situated.

The property used to belong to the City of Tshwane’s predecessor – the Pretoria Central Metropolitan Substructure.

The then council resolved to transfer the property to Tshwabac, then known as the Northern Transvaal Chamber of Industries – free of charge.

The property was given for purposes of hosting exhibitions and diverse activities involving the community – or a portion of the community, as well as “any other event which directly or indirectly related to such exhibitions and activities, with the provision that the facilities on the property or any part may be leased to third parties”.

From around 2016, Tshwabac’s finances were in a bad state and it faced creditors that were pursuing it. It thus sought to sell the property to pay off its creditors.

They approached the City with a request for it to consent to the sale of the property in 2017, but this was refused.

This was as Tshwabac also owed the City of Tshwane money for rates and services at the time, and still does. The proceeds of the sale would have been used to pay off its debt to the City.

Based on this, the City demanded that Tshwabac hand back the property, in line with the caveat in the title deed, since it was no longer using it for the intended purpose – instead the organisation wanted to use the property to pay off its creditors.

The City of Tshwane also pointed out that there were activities that were being carried out on the property that were contrary to the donation stipulations, such as renting it out for church services.

The City last year said the arrears owed to it amounted to about R12 258 275.

Tshwabac told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in 2017 that it wanted to sell the iconic property to settle its then R8 million municipal debt.

It said at the time that it had already identified a new property to which the showgrounds could be moved.

Tshwabac has also since entered into negotiations with First Land Developments about the possibility of purchasing the 38ha prime land on which the showgrounds are situated, its chief executive officer Willem du Toit stated in its court papers at the time.

But these proposals were up in the air due to a stalemate between Tshwabac and the City.

Tshwabac at the time said the only way it could settle its bill with the City was to sell the land.

Tshwabac took over in 1995 and in terms of a clause in the title deeds it cannot sell the land without the nod of the council.

The City held the stance during the 2017 court proceedings that Tshwabac could not cash in on the sale of the land that it had received for free.

The City said the land was handed to the owner for free, provided that it was utilised as an events centre to be enjoyed by the people of the city.

It said it would fight to preserve this asset for its residents.

It is understood that the parties eventually came to an agreement that the property would be registered back in the name of the City.

This has eventually now been achieved.

Pretoria News

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