Singh gets go-ahead for studio

2012-11-30 00:00

DURBAN film-maker Anant Singh can finally go ahead to establish a film studio he had planned to develop nine years ago on Durban’s “golden mile”.

Singh and his company, Rinaldo Investments, yesterday won his protracted court battle with Pietermaritzburg businessman Sunny Gayadin’s Giant Concerts CC for the right to develop the former Natal Command site, which eThekwini Municipality sold to him for R15 million in 2003.

Gayadin had challenged the legal validity of the sale on numerous grounds, alleging it was “contaminated by irregularities”.

The case bounced from the high court in KZN, to the Supreme Court of Appeals, and finally to the ultimate decision-maker, the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court yesterday unanimously ruled in Singh’s favour and found Giant Concerts did not have legal standing to challenge the sale of the property, as it had not shown it had direct interests in the venture.

Singh, who was in London, issued a statement welcoming the ruling, saying: “We are vindicated by the judgment which endorses the fact that due process was followed in the transaction.

“The long legal process has delayed the project, which will have a positive impact on the city and the province.”

They were looking forward to proceeding with exciting opportunities the development will bring to the region in the film, media and entertainment sectors, he said.

Gayadin said in a statement he’d not had the opportunity of “digesting” the judgment. However, he said he intended meeting with his legal team to raise various issues which concerned him.

He said there appeared to have been a “travesty of justice”.

Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron said in the judgment that in all of the hundreds of documents lodged with the court over many years, Giant Concerts had never expanded on its plans or its purported interest or proposed offer for the land.

“It gave no more detail than it did to the municipality’s officials who met Mr Gayadin in January 2004. There was no reason why it could not,” the judge said.

For Giant Concerts to demonstrate that the proposed transaction would directly affect its interests, it had only to give a realistic indication that it was serious in its intentions. This should have been done by indicating the price it was willing to pay, and the capacity to carry out its intentions.

“This it never did. Merely postulating a claim of interest is not enough. The interest must be described and have some tangibility,” the judge said.

The Constitutional Court said the inference that Giant Concerts was merely “toying” with process “or seeking to thwart a propitious public development because it had been made available to someone else” was one the court was entitled to draw.

The judgment noted at the time when the municipality agreed to sell the land to Rinaldo for R15 million, it was independently valued for optimal use at R71 million.

However, the municipality, and later the province, added conditions on top of the purchase price to ensure that the land had to be used for the core activities of a development of a film studio and associated infrastructure.

If it was not, a “claw-back” provision came into play.

According to the judgment, when senior municipal officials met Gayadin in January 2004 ( to discuss the objection lodged by Giant Concerts), he told them he was involved in the entertainment industry and imported videos primarily from India. When invited to disclose his proposals for the site, he refused to do so on the basis that these were confidential.

“He was unable to show that he had any involvement in or knowledge of the film industry,” the judge said.

Gayadin also stated that he would “pay more” for the property than Rinaldo, but declined to indicate how much. He did not submit any information or proposal for the development of the property.

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