‘Renting’ votes

2013-11-24 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Death-mall owner urged tenants to vote ANC in return for R500 rent cut

The company of Tongaat death-mall owner Jay Singh gave tenants of his low-cost housing projects a R500 monthly rent cut before the 2011 local government elections in a failed bid to get them to vote for the ANC.

The houses they lived in were built by Singh through a sweetheart deal with the eThekwini Municipality.

This week, ANC and city officials scrambled to distance themselves from Singh after the collapse of his Tongaat Mall. Zakithi Nxumalo (35) and another man, believed to be Zwelibanzi Masuku (51), died and 29 workers were injured when the roof collapsed.

The second body was pulled from the rubble yesterday.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant Mandy Govender said Masuku’s family was at the morgue.

Singh has continued to receive tenders despite being convicted of bribing a city building inspector.

eThekwini City Manager S’bu Sithole and Mayor James Nxumalo were quick to distance the city from Singh, whose Gralio Construction was hammered by the Manase Report into corruption in the city.

Singh’s Remant Alton Transport was given the city’s bus service for R70?million and sold it back for R403?million after running it into the ground.

Documents in City Press’ possession may provide some insight into the relationship between the ANC and Singh, whose family’s companies have raked in a staggering R500?million in housing tenders from the metro.

A letter from housing management company Woodglaze Trading, which belongs to Singh’s ex-wife, Shireen Annamalay, was sent to residents of two of his Phoenix complexes?–?Tasvir Mansions in Rydalvale and Tashmera Gardens in Eastbury.

The letter, dated May 16 2011, two days before the election, confirms an offer to tenants of a R500 monthly rent deduction from August that year.

Although officially divorced, Singh and Annamalay still share a house and business premises.

The letter is signed by Pravashkumar “Pravash” Inderjeeth, the head of Woodglaze and Singh’s de facto deputy.

The other signatory is ANC PR councillor Sarojini Govender, the party’s failed candidate for the ward.

The letter also bears the ANC logo and is stamped “ANC Ward 49 Candidate Sarojini Govender”.

The letters were issued to tenants by Woodglaze and Govender in a desperate bid to stop the DA’s electoral gains in Phoenix. A similar offer was made to tenants of other buildings around Phoenix that were run by Singh.

Tenants said that before the 2011 elections, residents of all flats owned and administered by Woodglaze were told that their rentals would be reduced if they promised to vote for the ANC.

A tenant, who asked not to be named, said: “Then we started to question why the flats were in such a bad condition and why we were not getting our title deeds?...?We were told by Stanley Moonsamy [secretary of the ANC constituency office in Phoenix] to join the ANC ward committee and they would help us.

“Election time was coming up and they offered the people R500 a month less in rent. They wanted us to stop fighting them and vote for the ANC. We weren’t convinced, so they gave us the letter in writing. We still didn’t vote for the ANC, but they did give us the cut,” he said.

Tenants of other Woodglaze complexes confirmed receiving the rent cut and being approached to vote for the ANC by Woodglaze and Govender.

Govender said on Friday morning that she was involved in an attempted hijacking and was unable to comment.

Later that day, a woman who refused to identify herself but claimed to be Govender’s “representative’’ answered her phone and said she would comment later. But no comment was forthcoming.

An ANC activist, who asked not to be identified, said the plan to offer tenants a rent cut in return for votes was discussed by the party’s Phoenix leadership.

“There were a couple of discussions around how to do it. I wasn’t involved myself,” he said.

Singh has gone to ground since the mall collapse. Melanie Moodley, the publicist he hired in the wake of the collapse, failed to comment on his or Inderjeeth’s behalf. Moonsamy did not respond to calls.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said the party was not aware of the rent-cut offer.?–?Additional reporting by Sipho Masondo

See a gallery of the rescue mission.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.