MEC lands in hot water

2010-09-26 13:31

Questions are being raised about how the North West government sold prime land to a small company for less than R100 000 and which the company sold weeks ­later for ­almost R2 million.

The North West government sold the property in Mafikeng (Unit 6 in Mmabatho) as vacant land for R98 940 despite a municipal ­valuation of R659 364.

The buyer, TJ Mampe Trading & Projects cc, sold the property to Hemca Motors – operators of a petrol station situated on the land – for R1.8 million.

The North West MEC for safety, Howard Yawa – at that time MEC for development, local government and housing – signed the power of attorney to transfer the property on April 6 last year, ­despite the withdrawal of two law firms, Minchin and Kelly Inc and Tlapi Wessels Attorneys, due to anomalies.

The Democratic Alliance has called for an investigation into the deal and for Yawa’s suspension.

Ockert Ackerman, a lawyer who prepared the transfer documentation at Minchin and Kelly Inc, wrote to Yawa on May 22 last year asking why the land had been sold as a vacant site.

Ackerman also drew Yawa’s attention to a municipal valuation roll which valued the land at R659 364 and the improvement – the petrol station – erected on it at a cost of R600 000.

“I did not receive a written ­reply,” Ackerman said.

Lesiba Kgwele, Yawa’s spokesperson, said facts obtained from the North West Housing Corporation (NWHC) indicated that the property had been sold for R98 940 but that the amount was only for the land and not the ­improvements, which were owned by the operator.

“The rate used for the sale of the land was the same as all other properties in Mafikeng,” he said.

Kgwele also said the NWHC claimed that TJ Mampe Trading cc had bought the property on ­behalf of Hemca Motors and that proof to that effect had been ­obtained from Hemca.

However, Carl Trieloff, a director at Hemca Motors, denied any link with TJ Mampe Trading, saying: “It is nonsense. I certainly did not know Tshiamo Mampe (sole director of Mampe Trading) before we bought the property from him for R1.8 million.”

Trieloff said Hemca Motors had tried unsuccessfully for many years to buy the property.

This contradicted Kgwele’s claim that North West’s government operated on the principle that “people or companies who occupied properties of the NWHC were given the first right to buy those properties”.

“Hemca Motors owned the ­improvements and operations and made an offer through TJ Mampe Trading cc and were ­given the first right in that ­manner,” he said.

It was also contrary to what MEC for human settlements ­Desbo Mohono told the North West legislature three weeks ago.

She said the sale of the land was on a first-come-first-served basis. She also revealed that the sale was made without a valuation, which was common practice at the NWHC, and that the property had been sold without going to tender.

She acknowledged that two law firms had withdrawn from the transaction due to a failure to mention developments on the site, but said she would not be investigating the matter.

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