Shabangu welcomes action on leases
Johannesburg - Businessman Roux Shabangu has welcomed a court application to declare his lease contracts with the police null and void, saying it would bring clarity to the matter.
"We [Roux Property Fund] welcome the minister's actions. This matter has been hanging for... too long," Shabangu's spokesperson, Lelo Zulu, said in an e-mail to Sapa on Tuesday.
Zulu said it was important to allow the courts the opportunity to put the matter into perspective.
"The sooner the court decides on the validity of the lease, the better it would be for us as a company to continue with our course of business."
Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde announced on Tuesday that she had applied to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have a lease contract, signed with Shabangu for police office space, declared null and void.
"Papers have already been filed... and we are now waiting for a hearing date," she said in a statement.
"These contracts were entered into before I became minister. Part of the reason it has taken some time to get to the point of filing court papers is because of obstruction I received from within the department, and because I received contradictory legal advice."
She denied signing off on the contract.
"It is important to note that media comments suggesting that these leases cost the South African taxpayers dearly are incorrect," she said.
"We have not paid Mr Shabangu one cent, no work was ever started on the Durban offices and nor have we authorised Mr Shabangu's company to complete any work on the Middestad building."
Mahlangu-Nkabinde said some department officials were under investigation.
"We have had the courage to say publicly we have a problem with corruption in the department," she said.
"I cannot be held responsible for what happened before my time, but I can promise that we will get to the bottom of all irregularities."
In a recent report, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that the public works department had deviated from tender processes, that the lease agreements were not at the market rate, and that Shabangu allegedly pressured officials to finalise the deals.
Madonsela's first report, released in February, was on her investigation into the Sanlam-Middestad building in Pretoria, leased for R500m. Her second report examined the R1.1bn agreement to lease Transnet Tower in Durban.
Madonsela called on President Jacob Zuma to take action against Mahlangu-Nkabinde, police commissioner Bheki Cele and senior officials involved in the deals.
Last week, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Zuma took the report seriously, which was why he had decided not to make a "hasty or haphazard" decision.