Metro stalls on leases

2013-08-23 00:00

ABOUT 25 tenants at the Virginia Airport are set to take eThekwini Metro manager S’bu Sithole to court after the metro decided not to sign a 10-year lease with the tenants. A group of individual businessman sell or repair aircraft, provide flying instruction, charter aircraft and provide refuelling services, among other things, from these premises.

Spokesperson for the group, Daryl Mann, said they have been struggling for more than a year to get a long-term lease from the municipality, and that funding to the tune of R50 million from the Treasury has been lost due to the non-availability of the lease. In a week’s time Mann will give instructions to attorneys representing the group to proceed with legal action.

He said while they were not getting the funding, other smaller airports throughout the province were “taken care” of.

“On February 8 this year we, together with our legal representative, had a meeting with the municipality where the manager promised to give us a five-year lease, which stood to be renewed for another five years.

“After that meeting I spent about R400 000 repairing one of my hangars, which I wouldn’t have done had it not been for the lease promise,” said Mann.

He said due to the uncertainty, employees were starting to look elsewhere for jobs.

Metro manager S’bu Sithole stood his ground, saying that as an accounting officer he could not be forced by courts to commit to undertakings that would not serve the best interest of the metro and its people. “My role as an accounting officer is to look at the needs of the municipality and the community. I’m to see to it that all the assets are utilised productively. Our source of income has not been growing to meet our needs and to make that happen we need to undertake projects that will be productive,” he said.

He denied promising a five-year lease to the operators during the February meeting, but that a month-to-month lease was offered.

“This lease period is enough for us to finalise our consultation and research with other stakeholders. Once that is concluded, then we will consult them [operators] to say ‘this is what we came up with in terms of developing the airport’. We will never leave them out in the cold.”

eThekwini official opposition (DA) caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said during a visit at the airport yesterday, it was established that provincial Treasury has not made funding available for the airport because of the lack of leases for operators.

“Instead, the critical funding of up to R50 million has been diverted to other airports in Margate, Ulundi and Richards Bay. This is a huge loss to Virginia Airport,” said Mncwango in a statement.

He said the municipal manager had “stubbornly” refused to honour a council resolution of October 2011 where it was agreed that leases with the airport operators should be finalised. “This had led to a situation where much-needed funds are lost to other airports,” he said, adding that they support the legal route sought by the tenants to resolve the matter.

Clive Coetzee, general manager: infrastructure management and economic services in the Treasury, said it was “absolute nonsense” that Treasury had diverted funding meant for Virginia Airport.

“In April 2012 I received a funding request of R25 million from the metro’s economic development unit, which at this stage has not even been considered. We cannot consider funding that airport while there’s uncertainty about its future,” said Coetzee.

“My role as an accounting officer is to look at the needs of the municipality and the community. I’m to see to it that all the assets are utilised productively.”

Join the conversation! 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. 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 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.