Cash-strapped SABC's Sea Point property auction interdicted

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The SABC offices in Sea Point, Cape Town. ( Photo: Misha Jordaan/Gallo Images)
The SABC offices in Sea Point, Cape Town. ( Photo: Misha Jordaan/Gallo Images)
  • An urgent court interdict halted the SABC's planned auction of a vacant plot in Sea Point. 
  • The urgent application was brought by the Department of Housing and Sanitation, and the Housing Development Agency.
  • The court order came shortly before the auction was due to start.   

An urgent court interdict on Wednesday stopped the SABC's planned auction of its properties in Sea Point. 

The urgent application was brought by the Department of Housing and Sanitation, and the Housing Development Agency.

The order came shortly before the auction was scheduled to start.

The department plans to discuss affordable housing possibilities for the site.

"The Housing Development Agency (HDA) obtained an interdict in respect of the non-core properties,"  HDA administrator Neville Chainee told News24 on Wednesday.  

He explained the application followed an unsuccessful attempt at securing a meeting with the SABC to discuss the department's stance that the land was perfectly suited for affordable housing.  

In light of the interdict, the department plans to consult the provincial housing department and the City of Cape Town to discuss possible options.

The return date for the matter to be argued is 25 May.

The Aucor auction advertised the "sought after" 2 162m squared commercial property on Rocklands Close, Sea Point, as zoned for residential use.

It includes a block of flats, with 14 units over three erven, two erven of sought-after parking, measuring 900m squared, and, at the time of advertising, vacant occupation. A non-refundable deposit of R50 000 was required to participate in the auction. The property would be sold to the highest bidder, and not lower than the reserve price. In November, the SABC announced that it would be terminating leases at its non-core properties, ahead of a public auction. Tenants would not get the option to purchase it.

SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo told News24 the disposal of non-core assets in Cape Town was part of the organisation's Turnaround Strategy.

"The selling of non-core assets will also assist in a much-needed cash injection, towards a financially sustainable SABC and the funding of critical infrastructure project."

READ HERE | SABC fails to pay severance packages

The interdict on the Sea Point auction was welcomed by the GOOD party.

"Just last month, GOOD Leader and Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille informed a committee of Parliament that land, owned by state-owned enterprises, must be included in the country's land reform programme," said GOOD's Brett Herron.

Spatial planning

Herron resigned from the DA, and as mayoral committee member for housing in Cape Town, over the slow pace of affordable housing developments."GOOD has consistently called for public land to be used for the public good and not to be sold off to the highest bidder," said Herron.

Western Cape ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore said the party was pleased with the turn of events.

"This is a blow against the legacy of apartheid spatial planning," he said. 

Other properties on auction are residential properties in Mahikeng, Gauteng, and a farm in Limpopo. 

The SABC reported the North West High Court ordered that residents, who refused to heed orders to vacate properties in Mahikeng, have to tell a court why they should not be evicted for the auction of those buildings to happen. 

READ | SABC plans public auction of 'non-core properties', including some leased to employees

The respondents were the cash-strapped SABC, the Department of Post and Telecommunications, Aucor Corporate (the auctioneers), the Department of Public Enterprises, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure. 

By the end of March, the SABC lost 621 employees after a lengthy battle over retrenchments.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Gqoboka, the Sea Point chapter leader for the housing activist group, Ndifuna Ukwazi, said a group of people had already moved on to the properties to stop the sale.  

"We told them we have been fighting over this property since 1996," she said of the lengthy battle over the site. Housing activists have been lobbying fiercely for well-located land in Sea Point to be developed as affordable housing for workers. 

In a statement, Ndifuna Ukwazi said that, in the middle of a housing crisis, the SABC, as a state-owned enterprise (SOE), should have consulted with relevant state organs to dispose of the public building, so that the SOE asset can be used for its social value, rather than being auctioned off to private entities.

The statement read:

It is apparent, with this auction, that the cost of maladministration and financial mismanagement, which has gutted SABC, is to be visited upon the poor, who will be denied a place to call home in Sea Point.

The Department of Human Settlements said, in a statement, that the sale would have been in conflict with the government's mandate to redress spatial segregation and associated inequitable access to land by the poor.

"The sale of the properties, without it being made expressly available for subsidised and/or social rental housing, would be against all we are striving for, and we had to intervene urgently on this matter," said the director-general of the Department of Human Settlements, Mbulelo Tshangana.

Tshangana and the department want more affordable housing programmes within the inner cities, and acknowledged the campaign by housing activists.

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