Public Protector dismisses GOOD party's complaint over Salt River market site

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Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka. Photo: City Press
Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka. Photo: City Press
  • Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka has dismissed a complaint lodged by GOOD party MP Brett Herron over the Salt River market site. 
  • Herron lodged a complaint with the Public Protector's office in 2019.
  • The mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said the dismissal of these allegations puts to bed long-standing misinformation by Herron that the site's release was obstructed.

Acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka has dismissed the GOOD party's complaint about the excessive value of the Salt River market site, which has been earmarked for social housing.

Gcaleka released her findings last Friday. She said the allegations the City of Cape Town's immovable property adjudication committee (IPAC) obstructed the disposal of the site was "unsubstantiated".

Gcaleka added allegations the City's valuation method was inconsistently applied by its appraisers, resulting in a 535% increase in the market value of the property over four years, was unsubstantiated. 

GOOD MP Brett Herron lodged a complaint with the Public Protector's office in 2019.

The complaint consisted of two parts; the inconsistent valuations and the unreasonable delays in releasing the site for affordable housing.

Herron alleged the site valuations were applied inconsistently. Gcaleka found the allegation the City's valuation approach and method were inconsistently applied by it appraisers, resulting in a 535% increase in the market value of the property over four years, was not substantiated and found he conduct of the City and its functionaries did not constitute improper conduct in terms of Section 182(1) of the Constitution and maladministration in terms of Section 6(4)(a)(i) of the Public Protector Act. 

The mayoral committee member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, said the dismissal of these allegations put to bed long-standing misinformation by Herron that the site release was obstructed.

READ | 'Give me time': Acting Public Protector defends her cautious approach to Phala Phala probe

"Once legal compliance issues had been remedied, the city council gave in-principle approval for the Salt River market social housing project in December 2018, and four months later, in April 2019, rezoning approval was granted.

"The record clearly shows that land release milestones followed in steady succession after Brett Herron's departure in November 2018 and have continued to this day, putting to bed the falsehood that projects were cancelled," Booi added. 

Four years ago, social housing giant Communicare proposed to buy the site, valued at R144 million, for R1.8 million to build a R715 million high-rise building.

The recommendations for developing social housing in Salt River were sent back to the City's portfolio committee in 2018 to investigate.

The decision raised the ire of advocacy groups which accused the City of blocking the project.

Herron resigned from the DA after the development failed to get off the ground. Eventually, in 2018, the council resolved to release the Salt River market to Communicare for mixed-use development. 

Currently, more than 800 social housing units in the Cape Town are in the construction phase. 

Herron said they accepted that the Public Protector was persuaded by the City's defence "couched in bureaucratic excuses".

"But the facts speak for themselves. There's no affordable housing on the site. The transfer to Communicare was only finally approved about a month ago.

"Four years after I resigned, because the DA blocked the release of the site for affordable housing, there's not a single affordable housing unit in sight," he added.


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