Pilgrim's Rest 'too white'

2012-07-26 08:28
Pretoria - The historical mining town of Pilgrim's Rest has "too many white faces", according to court documents detailed in a Beeld report.

According to the report, Head of the Pilgrim's Rest Business Forum Marius Brummer, and owner of the Highwaymans Garage, claims a Mpumalanga department official said this in a 2008 meeting with the town's people and that the heritage of Pilgrim’s Rest needs to benefit "PDI's" (previously disadvantaged individuals).

At least 17 tenants in the old gold mining town, which has been declared a national monument, face eviction at the end of July after being served with notices by the Mpumalanga department of public works.

North Gauteng High Court Judge Stanley Makgoba is set to rule today at 11:30 in the eviction matter between the state and businesses who brought the urgent interdict before the court, claiming disparities in the tender process.

The group, represented by advocate Francois Kriel, cited instances where a bidder who operated a business in the town and had offered more than R3 000, was turned down in favour of a bidder who offered R33 per month rent for the Pilgrim's Rest Golf Course.

Kriel told the court there were irregularities in the way the tendering for the new leases was done by the Mpumalanga government.

The tendering process for the new leases had not been transparent and was exclusive to the current occupants at Pilgrim's Rest, said Kriel.

For the respondents, Advocate Ignatius Bredenkamp SC said the business people were duly informed to vacate the premises by the provincial authority and should do so.

Bredenkamp argued that the occupants were using the premises on a month-to-month basis therefore the notice of eviction served on June 29 should be considered valid.

There was contention around the group's lease agreements which they signed in 2008, with an expiry date of 2013. Bredenkamp could not explain why the provincial government back-dated the leases to 2006.

Judge Makgoba questioned Bredenkamp why the Mpumalanga government had put the premises out to tender, while there were still businesses occupying the properties.

The judge questioned the rationale of bringing in new businesses and removing the current ones, who had specialised licenses to trade in items like fuel and liquor.

"I did not get a guarantee anywhere that the people that are coming in have the requisite licences. Certain goods require special licenses; I think you are putting me in a difficult position here," the judge told Bredenkamp.

Fear of job losses and panic gripped the sleepy Pilgrim's Rest town, as business employers and employees alike contemplated their futures if the provincial government is to execute the evacuation orders unabated.

- With additional reporting from Sapa.
Read more on:    mbombela  |  pilgrim's rest  |  travel south africa
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