Midlands Mall blockers holding out for R500 000

2011-03-04 00:00

DEMANDS by 14 tenants of the Sanctuary Road Housing Scheme adjacent to Liberty Midlands Mall that they be paid R500 000 per household to vacate the homes is “nothing more than blackmail”.

This allegation is contained in an affidavit by Jacobus Zwart, Msundusi’s manager for valuations and land survey, in support of an application by the municipality to have the tenants evicted so the property can be sold to Liberty Properties Group for expansion of the mall.

The tenants have lodged a counter-application against the muncipality.

They claim they are in lawful occupation of the houses in terms of lease agreements and maintain the municipality does not have the right to evict them.

They emphatically deny they are blackmailing the municipality and state that they have explained that they believe they should get R500 000 per household if they are to move, so they will be able to get alternative accommodation of similar kind and quality.

Zwart said the houses were intially built for city council employees, but after time became available to the public.

He said that in 2008 the property was “donated” to the Msundusi Housing Association, but it emerged subsequently that the so-called “donation” was invalid and the property was handed back to the municipality.

The tenants argue that the municipality is not the owner in terms of the title deeds: the Pietermaritzburg Transititional Local Council is. They also maintain their lease agreements are with the PMB TLC and Msundusi Housing Association, not the municipality.

Zwart said the total investment by Liberty Properties in Pietermaritzburg is R549,4 million, which has a significant impact on growth and development of the city. The phase three expansion of the mall, which will include offices and a gymnasium, is estimated to be worth R500 million.

He said an initial agreement by 25 affected tenant families resulted in some accepting an offer of payment of R150 000 per household, and they have left. The 14 remaining tenants are demanding R500 000 per household, or to have the properties transferred to them.

He added the R150 000 offer expired at the end of August 2010.

The tenants, represented in court papers by Smangele Bridget Khanyile, claim they believe they are entitled to take transfer of their properties because they have lived there a long time, are not in breach of their lease agreements, and say the municipality has a duty to provide housing for them.

Khanyile alleged that by offering the property to Liberty Properties while refusing to offer it to them, the municipality is “disregarding and avoiding its duties to take good care of its citizens”.

The case has been postponed to the opposed court roll for hearing on May 27.

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