City lost R100m it could have spent on poor people, protesters claim

2018-10-04 21:08
Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Nkosikhona Swartbooi addresses protesters outside the offices of Growthpoint Properties in Claremont. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Nkosikhona Swartbooi addresses protesters outside the offices of Growthpoint Properties in Claremont. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

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About 20 members of Reclaim the City (RTC), an activist group campaigning for affordable housing, protested outside the local offices of Growthpoint Properties in Claremont on Thursday, according to a GroundUp report.

They demanded answers from the company after Mayor Patricia De Lille announced that a forensic investigation would be conducted into the controversial Foreshore deal between Growthpoint and the City of Cape Town.

In 2016, Growthpoint bought a 3 939m² piece of prime development land on the Foreshore (Site B) for R86.5m. According to RTC, this was at least R100m less than what it was worth, and the money "could [have] be[en] spent on helping the poor".

Earlier this week, De Lille requested a forensic investigation into the sale, which may have lost the City up to R140m. GroundUp previously reported that the City had not properly explained the property deal.

RTC members chanted and held up signs depicting photographs of the dealmakers and questions that they wanted them to answer.

On a sign, which depicted Growthpoint CEO Norbert Sasse, were the questions: "When did you know the land was undervalued? Before or after the auction? How did you find out? Do you think you paid a fair price? How many houses could be built with the money you saved? Will you now pay more or give our land back?"

Nkosikhona Swartbooi, head of organising at housing activist group Ndifuna Ukwazi, said a few weeks ago the organisation discovered that Growthpoint paid for 17 000m² of bulk rights (which determines the size of the building on the site) when it should have paid for 46 000m².

"I stay in Khayelitsha and I stayed in a shack for more than 14 years of my life. My mom and my sister had to use the bush to relieve themselves … I know the impact of not having basic services and that comes with housing. They're (the City) saying there is no land available when they're selling our land to the private sector," said Swartbooi.

Sasse was not on site.

Head of Corporate Communications Nadine Kuzmanich addressed the protesters. She said Growthpoint was not in a position to answer the questions and asked that the protesters give the company 21 days. She also said Growthpoint was still engaging with the City.

"If we don't hear from you on October 25, we will be back. We have a reputation of going to people's houses," said Swartbooi.

Read more on:    growthpoint  |  city of cape town  |  housing  |  land claims

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