WC govt says contentious R64m Dunoon land purchase is above board

2019-08-20 22:19
Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers insists the purchase of land in Dunoon is above board.

This after he refused to answer questions posed by GOOD MPL Brett Herron on the purchase during Thursday's sitting of the Western Cape legislature.

According to Herron's information, the province through its agent, the Housing Development Agency (HAD), had bought it from a private owner for R64.6m. The 17ha piece of land is called Doornbach.

He said the price was more than what the City had valued it at.

It already owned a piece of land close to the burgeoning Dunoon informal settlement, which had been earmarked for housing projects as early as 2014.

The City-owned land constitutes 20ha and is situated on the corner of Potsdam and Blaauwberg roads and close to transport amenities.

Herron said he had written to the legislature's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), asking it to investigate the purchase.

He also provided correspondence between councillors, which would suggest that it was "politically sensitive" to develop land the City already owned.

During the sitting, he asked Simmers: "I wonder if the minister could explain why the province and the City avoided using the City-owned site on the corner of Potsdam and Blaauwberg roads, which is 20ha in size, free, because it is already owned by the public and in the City's hands, and available, it wasn't occupied, along two MyCiTi bus routes, and with a public transport interchange on it?

"Why did the province and the City avoid using that site and choose to purchase a site at more than double the market value? Were they avoiding spatial integration of black South Africans into the Table View suburb because the local ward councillor doesn't want to live in what she calls 'Khayelitsha by the sea'?"

Slimmers' only response was: "You were fast asleep during your council term. The City was investigating the purchase of the property adjacent to the informal settlement. And I want to repeat myself, I wonder whether you were asleep there by your caucus."

In his follow-up, Herron said: "I was definitely not asleep. In fact, deputy speaker, to the honourable minister, the City of Cape Town received an unsolicited offer to sell the Doornbach site to it and chose not to purchase the site because it was being offered at a price that was more than double its market value.

"And instead, we proposed that the people who were living on the Doornbach site in the rail reserve be moved and be housed on City-owned land on the corner of Potsdam and Blaauwberg roads. So my question stands: Why did the province and the City avoid using vacant City land, on the corner of Potsdam and Blaauwberg roads when it was available to them?"

Simmers only answered with a fairly outdated Afrikaans idiom: "Die is 'n person wat knolle verkoop as sitroene. [This is a person who is telling us nonsense.]"

In a statement dated August 18, Simmers said Herron was misleading the public and his comments were racially divisive.

According to Simmers, the facts were as follows:

- The City of Cape Town did not have the funds to acquire the property, and the previous human settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela, had agreed to purchase the property, with councillor Xanthea Limberg agreeing to the proposal.

- Two evaluations were conducted through the HDA, amounting to R71 054 750 by Tashoma and R33 000 000 by Equitas. It must be noted that the Equitas evaluation includes erven 35161 to 35176 and rem erf 38368, but excludes erf 35148.

- The HDA acquired the 17ha Racing Park property and the deed of sale was signed in September 2018 at a market value of R64.6m. This amount excludes transfer fees and holding costs, as well as erven 35175 and 35176, while the request for the acquisition of the two erven, erfs 35162 and 35161 still needs to be submitted by the HDA to the department for approval.

"This property is next to the Richmond industrial park along the N7 and the Rivergate industrial park, as well as close to the MyCiTi bus route. This negates Mr Herron's assertion that residents will be living 'far from your place of work and transport'. I'd like to advise Mr Herron to refrain from making statements that are not factual, as he is exposing his shortcomings as a leader," Simmers said. 

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Read more on:    da  |  good party  |  brett herron  |  tertius simmers  |  cape town  |  politics  |  land
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