New R18m house for Chief Justice
Lizel Steenkamp, Beeld
Cape Town - Tax payers have had to shell out R18m for Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo's luxury house in Sandhurst, Johannesburg, while the R9.2m house in Houghton Estate where former Chief Justice Pius Langa lived, is standing empty.
In February the department of justice argued that a new house had to be bought for Ngcobo, since Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke would be living in Langa's house.
But Tlali Tlali, their spokesperson, confirmed to Beeld on Thursday evening that Langa's up-market house is still standing empty.
In response to a Parliamentary question on Thursday, Geoff Doidge, minister of public works, confirmed that his department purchased Villa Rosa from the Oliver Tambo family trust for R18m in November "to accommodate the Chief Justice".
ID leader Patricia de Lille, who posed the question to Doidge, said the transaction seems suspicious because the house was bought from an important ANC family.
"How do we know if that's the real market value of the house?
"Did we pay that amount just because it belonged to the Tambo family?" she wanted to know.
The purchase and registration of the property was done by the department of public works.
Tlali denied on Thursday evening that the money came from the department of justice's budget.
According to him, Doidge's department is responsible for the transaction.
"It's the responsibility of the department of public works to supply accommodation.
"Public works determines what the requirements are, and is in the best position to say which process was followed when purchasing the property."
Beeld posed several telephonic and written questions to Doidge's department to determine who approved the purchase, how they decided upon that particular house, and whether there's a limit to the amount his department will pay for a house.
Lucky Mochalibane, chief of communications for this department, flatly refused to handle the query.
"This is query is not urgent to me. It might be urgent and important to you (reporter), but it's not important to me. I'll deal with it when and how I can," he said.
Earlier in the day Koketso Sachane, Doidge's spokesperson, agreed to comment but has not responded yet.