The land owners at the heart of violent housing demonstrations in the coastal town of Hermanus stand to score a massive windfall of millions of rands if the state, through the Western Cape provincial government, buys it back from them.

As the communities of Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant near Hermanus protested over a lack of adequate housing during demonstrations earlier this month, the owners of the Schulphoek property were negotiating with the Western Cape to sell the piece of land back to the state.

News24 can reveal that the provincial government could shell out much more than the rumoured R34m to the owners of the protest-stricken Schulphoek  which they bought from the Overstrand municipality less than a decade ago for an effective R5m following a controversial land deal.

The rest of the developmental improvements that were supposed to form part of the sale have still not been completed, including a link road and bulk infrastructure in the area.

Now, with community members demonstrating about the lack of housing, the Western Cape government was forced to step in and purchase the property.

Section 14(3) and Section 90(3) of the Municipal Finance Management Act prohibits a municipality from reversing the sale of a property once it has been sold. This is to prevent the possibility of a municipality selling off its property for a song, only to purchase it back later at a heavy premium.

However, the Act places no similar restriction on provincial governments when purchasing land sold by municipalities.

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela earlier refused to disclose the amount Rabcav wanted for the property. Asked if it was more than the rumoured R34m, Madikizela told News24 that “he [the seller] asked for more than that”. Madikizela said the government would not just pay the asking price, as the land would have to go through comparative valuation processes.

Considering that RabCav effectively only paid R5.3m for the Schulphoek land, the property developer stands to gain massively should the deal proceed.

Leslie Viljoen, speaking on behalf of RabCav, sidestepped detailed questions posed on the transaction.

“There is an 18-year history to this story which has been in the public domain on and off since 1999, both fact and fiction. It is not possible to give a balanced perspective by answering a few short questions and, due to the sensitivities around the latest political developments, we do not think it prudent to debate this further in the media.”

Ironically, his words echo those that then Overstrand mayor Theo Byleveldt told IOL in 2010. He reportedly said that the Fernkloof and Schulphoek developments had spanned 10 years, and it had been difficult to explain their “finer details” in the press. He believed that there had been “a lot of vexatiousnous behind the controversy”.

Eight years on, and the same questions are being asked by demonstrators in the streets of Hermanus.

Questions posed to Viljoen – about whether their asking price for Schulphoek included or excluded the outstanding infrastructure it was required to build – were met with a copy-and-paste of his earlier response.

Madikizela’s office indicated that the purchase price had not been agreed upon. A valuation of the property still had to be conducted on the land parcel before any figures could be thrown about. They did, however, indicate that the original conditions of the sale of the property would be taken into account when negotiating a purchase price.

Tensions have flared up in recent weeks in Zwelihle as local residents took to the streets to protest the lack of adequate housing in Hermanus. The resulting protests have seen the Western Cape town shut down for several days, hobbling local businesses and the community.

Mayor Dudley Coetzee told community leaders at a meeting at Overstrand Municipal offices last week: “My priority is to get Schulphoek back. Never mind how it got there [to the current ownership].”

He said this while a large group of people sang and marched up and down Magnolia Road outside.

source; News24 ')}

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The land owners at the heart of violent housing demonstrations in the coastal town of Hermanus stand to score a massive windfall of millions of rands if the state, through the Western Cape provincial government, buys it back from them. As the communities of Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant near Hermanus...