Flogging the mayor's house

2017-11-05 06:00
The swimming pool and view from the Tshwane mayoral mansion. Picture: Deon Raath

The swimming pool and view from the Tshwane mayoral mansion. Picture: Deon Raath

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If you have at least R5m, want to live within jogging distance of the Union Buildings and don’t mind diplomat neighbours throwing parties, then this is the property for you.

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga decided to auction off the mayoral mansion and use the proceeds to build low-cost government houses for the poor.

Even though it’s not the smartest house on the block, High Street Auctions’ Joff Van Reenen is thrilled to be the first auctioneer in the country to flog a mayoral residence.

“When they phoned us and asked us to auction this property, I immediately said yes.

“It’s different and unique because it’s the only official residence that has ever been auctioned in this country. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The enquiries are already streaming in, Van Reenen said.

What the mansion lacks in style, it makes up for in location.

“We have received phone calls from embassies. Probably about 40% of the calls were from professional persons, 40% from embassies and 20% from home owners. It’s just such a sought-after area,” Van Reenen said.

“It’s not as if the property is in Centurion. It’s in Muckleneuk. All you have in this place are embassies and the homes of consuls-general. It’s a very political suburb. They all want to be close to the Union Buildings,” Van Reenen explained.

“Pretoria has the highest concentration of embassies of any place in the world,” he added.

Van Reenen has full confidence that the Tshwane metro’s hopes that the property will sell for around R5m will be realised.

“Market forces will directly influence the purchase price. The buyers will have to decide and, at the end of the day, the mayor wants to use the money for a good cause, but he also wants to get the most he possibly can for the asset.”

The Tshwane metro bought the house for R1.9m (excluding transfer costs) in 2001.

“From an asset point of view, it’s a good investment,” Van Reenen said.

Van Reenen declined to discuss the R12m the city’s previous administration allegedly spent on upgrades to the mansion, and said: “The forensic audit is still ongoing so I can’t comment on whether R12m has actually been spent here.”

But he did say the upgrades weren’t evident.

“What upgrades? Maybe they spent it on the garden or the walk-in closet in the main bedroom.”

Van Reenen giggles about the gold-plated bathroom taps.

“We really don’t know what they spent the money on. I’ve been here on a number of occasions but I can’t see the money anywhere. The mayor also can’t. That’s why he calls this the ‘house of corruption’.”

The auction will be broadcast live from Summerplace in Hyde Park on Thursday, November 23

Read more on:    solly msimanga  |  tshwane

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