Ashburton mall proposed

2009-12-21 00:00


EGGS and tomatoes are being advertised for sale on a chalkboard on the verge at 37 Pope Ellis Drive in Ashburton, but if a proposal to build a shopping mall on the site is approved, you could be able to buy a whole lot more.

Kwazi Mbanjwa, former provincial Transport director-general and now adviser to Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele, has applied to develop this prime 22 hectare site in Ashburton to build a shopping centre and a hotel.

The notification of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) public participation process for the development of the properties, at 37 and 39 Pope Ellis Drive in Ashburton, was advertised in the Mercury and Isolezwe on November 30.

The site is adjacent to the N3 highway at the Ashburton turn-off.

According to the notification, Mbanjwa and his wife Pretty are proposing the construction of “a small shopping mall and a hotel with conference facilities and associated infrastucture”.

The notification invited “interested and affected parties” to attend a public meeting on the proposed site on December 9 between noon and 3 pm.

However, local residents have complained about the short notice, saying signs for the meeting only went up on December 5 and that letters hand-delivered to some residents regarding the meeting were dated December 4.

Residents also said the advertisement for the EIA and the meeting were published in newspapers “not much read” in Pietermaritzburg and that the meeting was scheduled for a time when people are away on holiday.

As well as objections to the development proposal, residents made a request to reschedule the meeting.

In response, a letter from Glenton Moses of Henwood & Nxumalo Consulting Engineers, who are facilitating the EIA process, said a series of meetings will be conducted in the coming months.

Mbanjwa and Moses were contacted for comment, but had not responded by the time of going to press.

KWAZI Mbanjwa is a long-standing civil servant. He worked in the previous KwaZulu-Natal government.

Shortly after South Africa became a democracy in 1994, he was appointed chief director of the roads division in the KZN Transport Department.

He moved up to head the entire department and from there he was appointed director-general of the province.

He left this position earlier this year to become an advisor to his former boss, Sibusiso Ndebele, the Minister of Transport.

Mbanjwa’s wife, Pretty, is a business woman and has been embroiled in the controversy over loans from Ithala Bank.

In 2006, the Inkatha Freedom Party fingered her as one of the related parties linked to the government who had benefited from a loan from the bank.

Her partners were May Mashego-Mkhize, the wife of the then Economic Development MEC, Zweli Mkhize, and Ntombi Shabalala, wife of then head of KZN Treasury.

They received a loan of R13 million for farming purposes.

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