Cabinet’s bling pads

2011-08-27 15:57

The government spent at least R46 million this year snapping up Cape Town mansions for Cabinet ministers at inflated prices.

The deals form part of a controversial public works property ­programme which is currently the subject of a probe by the Special Investigating Unit.

This week Parliament confirmed that R183 million had been spent by the embattled public works department since May 2009 to acquire houses for Cabinet ministers and their deputies in Cape Town and Pretoria.

A City Press investigation has established details of some of these Cape Town mansions and the opulent furnishings bought for ministers and other politicians.

Public works has steadfastly refused to say to whom the seven homes have been allocated.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Nomaindia Mfeketo has been allotted one of them – a Tuscan-style mansion in Delaire Road in the exclusive new suburb in Van Riebeeckshof, ­Bellville, even though a residential property she owns through a ­company is a mere 9km away.

Her house sports an air-conditioned bedroom, a designer kitchen with a stainless steel gas hob and plush dark-wood finishes, an outdoor entertainment area with a stainless steel braai, pool and imposing stairs leading up to a ­terraced garden – and six garages.

The state paid R8 million for the mansion, despite the property being valued at R1.7 million on the City of Cape Town’s valuation roll.

Property valuators who spoke to City Press did, however, estimate that a realistic value would be about R7 million.

She is entitled to a state home in terms of official ministerial rules.

Deeds records show that the property purchases made by the state in Bellville are among the highest prices paid for property in that particular neighbourhood.

A market analysis of the seven properties, which takes into account the size, fittings and comparable properties in the area, puts their total value at R37.4 million.

While higher than the municipal valuation, it’s still far off the R46 million the state paid.

The public works department confirmed that all these properties were purchased as part of its Prestige Portfolio, which provides housing to Cabinet members, ­deputy ministers and other officials in government’s top tiers.

Citing security reasons, it refused to say which properties were allocated to which ministers or deputies.

“The identification of the properties was purely based on the condition and age of the houses,” said public works spokesperson Thami Mchunu.

“These were newly constructed houses which did not require any structural alterations, as opposed to the houses around (Cape Town’s) southern suburbs.”

Mchunu said the department had conducted its own property evaluation and made presentations to the Land Affairs Board.

DA MP Erik Marais, who questioned the properties’ purchase in Parliament, noted that five of the six properties in Bellville spanned more than 700m².

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