Tossed out of Paradise

2011-07-23 00:00

THE luxury holiday homes of 13 South Africans in Mozambique have been seized by that country’s army, amid suspicions that the resort is being considered as a holiday home for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

Soldiers and police armed with AK47s and shotguns swooped on the La Perla holiday resort at Lake Bilene near Xai-Xai, 180 km north of Maputo last Friday, seizing homes worth R60 million.

The resort adjoins the luxury holiday home of Mozambican president Armando Guebuza.

One of the owners in Pretoria, businessman John Muller, who described the seizure as “a total onslaught against white South African investors in Mozambique”.

It appears that Muller and his co-owners are the victims of a leasehold agreement — entered into in 1994 — that has now gone badly wrong.

Among the big names now associated with the development are Guebuza and Mugabe, as well as Mozambique’s ambassador in Japan, Belmiro Malate, and one of South Africa’s leading property consultancies, Pam Golding International.

Braam Bruwer (70), co-owner and developer of the resort, faces arrest if he travels to Maputo on Monday to try and resolve the problem, as he was planning to do. “My investments in Mozambique amount to more than R2 billion,” the former Northern Transvaal and Transvaal rugby player told Beeld.

Muller heard last Friday how scores of armed soldiers and policemen arrived at the lagoon resort and told staff to leave the luxury homes immediately.

The locks of 15 houses, worth between R2,5 and R6 million apiece, were forced open with crowbars. Furniture and appliances were carried out of the houses and piled up in the street.

“We started picking up some noises about two weeks ago that something was happening, but what happened last Friday was totally unexpected,” Muller said.

“A policeman simply arrived and said he is repossessing the houses. We had to make quick plans to save our personal belongings and store them somewhere else.”

One of the resort’s permanent residents, an elderly cancer sufferer who did not want her name mentioned, related what happened:

“When we looked again, a convoy of soldiers and policemen, armed with AK47s and shotguns, had arrived inside the resort, and they told us, ‘No one is allowed to enter or leave the resort — we’ve got work to do. The governor of Gaza sent us.’

“At that stage there were only three female residents and 30 local workers in the resort.

“They barged past us, broke doors open, and started moving through the houses.

“The soldiers in particular were very intimidating and threatening. They opened our handbags and threw them on the floor.

“Then they yanked open cupboards and drawers and emptied them out. After they had drunk some of the liquor they threw the bottles and other containers out of the windows.”

The police officer in charge later did allow trucks to come on to the property to load up the furniture in the street and take it to storage sites outside the resort.

However, the few permanent residents were prohibited from going back into their homes and had to spend the night sleeping in their cars.

“After the soldiers and workers had carried everything out of the houses the locks were replaced.

“Where that could not be done, boards were crudely nailed over the doors,” Beeld was told.

“This is not an isolated incident in which South African investors have been targeted,” said Bruwer.

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