Shell House ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES

In­for­mal traders are us­ing the historic for­mer ANC head­quar­ters in Joburg to store their wares

CityPress - - News - In­ves­ti­ga­tions@me­dia24.com JEANNE VAN DER MERWE, MARYNA LAMPRECHT and ATHANDIWE SABA

The crown jewel in the ANC’s R67 mil­lion prop­erty em­pire – and one of the icons of its tran­si­tion to a gov­ern­ing party – is fall­ing into ruin in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg. Shell House was the first as­set ac­quired by the party’s prop­erty hold­ing com­pany, Dakawa Prop­er­ties, in 1991. It was the scene of the in­fa­mous mas­sacre of 19 Inkatha Free­dom Party sup­port­ers in 1994 and was the ANC’s head­quar­ters through­out the ne­go­ti­a­tions that led up to the 1994 elec­tions. It moved to Luthuli House in 1997. At the mo­ment, Shell House is the site of nu­mer­ous low-cost shops and ap­pears to be used by in­for­mal cloth­ing traders to store their wares.

Con­tacted for com­ment this week, the ANC ap­peared un­aware of what was go­ing on in its erst­while head­quar­ters and told City Press the build­ing was be­ing rented out as of­fice space.

In De­cem­ber, Shell House was one of sev­eral build­ings in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg raided as part of a Hawks op­er­a­tion fo­cus­ing on coun­ter­feit cloth­ing.

In 2010, the party was forced to se­cure a R13.5 mil­lion loan on Shell House’s 12 er­ven to buy a 13 hectare farm on the banks of the Vaal River.

City Press re­ported last week that the party was ne­go­ti­at­ing with a Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion for fur­ther fund­ing to de­velop the farm be­cause it couldn’t af­ford to do so on its own.

Dakawa Prop­er­ties was es­tab­lished less than a year af­ter the ANC was un­banned in 1990 and has since been used for a num­ber of prop­erty trans­ac­tions, os­ten­si­bly on be­half of the party.

Ac­cord­ing to on­line com­pany records, its cur­rent di­rec­tors are for­mer deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe, for­mer ANC trea­surer-gen­eral Mathews Phosa and party sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe.

In June 1991, it bought Shell House from the Shell Pen­sion Fund for R20 mil­lion. The prop­erty is cur­rently val­ued at just un­der R40 mil­lion.

In 1992, the com­pany bought a house in Diep­kloof for R160 000 and one in Isipingo for an undis­closed amount. The Diep­kloof house is not on the val­u­a­tion roll and the Isipingo prop­erty, which ap­pears to have been used as a guest­house at some stage, is now val­ued at R2.3 mil­lion.

In Septem­ber 2001, Dakawa Prop­er­ties bought Luthuli House in Sauer Street for R2 mil­lion. The prop­erty is now val­ued at R17 mil­lion.

In Fe­bru­ary 2010, the com­pany bought the farm Buf­fel­skloof in the Tlokwe mu­nic­i­pal­ity for R13 mil­lion. The prop­erty was reg­is­tered in the com­pany’s name within weeks af­ter a R13.5 mil­lion bond was reg­is­tered against Shell House with In­vestec. Sources say the party had to scram­ble to se­cure fund­ing to buy the farm. The Tlokwe mu­nic­i­pal­ity val­ues the farm at R7.5 mil­lion. Prop­erty val­u­a­tion roll records put Dakawa Prop­er­ties’ to­tal hold­ings at R67.2 mil­lion.

When City Press vis­ited Shell House this week, plain clothes se­cu­rity guards re­fused us ac­cess to the build­ing and re­ferred en­quiries to Luthuli House.

The dark glass out­side the build­ing was cracked in many places and the cav­ernous re­cep­tion area was empty, apart from a small glass cu­bi­cle hous­ing the guards. Plas­ter sheets were piled up on one side and rub­ble on the other. The floors were caked with grime and the lifts were de­serted. Out­side the build­ing, hawk­ers plied a lively trade in food, clothes and gad­gets. DA coun­cil­lor Bon­gani Nk­wanyana told City Press the build­ing was raided in De­cem­ber in a coun­ter­feit-goods sting and that nu­mer­ous items of cloth­ing – in­clud­ing Bafana Bafana soc­cer shirts – were loaded up and carted away. He was not aware of any crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions that fol­lowed. The Jo­han­nes­burg Cen­tral po­lice did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. The ANC said it was not aware of the raid. ANC spokesper­son Keith Khoza said that prop­erty man­age­ment com­pany Broll took care of the build­ing on be­half of the party, rent­ing it out as of­fice space. Khoza could not say if Shell House brought in a profit for the party.

He said the ANC con­sid­ered Shell House an im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal build­ing and would talk to Broll to en­sure it was well man­aged and did not con­trib­ute to crime in the area.

“The govern­ment is try­ing to im­prove build­ings in the city and Shell House should also re­flect [that],” Khoza said.

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

FIXER-UP­PER Shell House is in the cen­tre of Jo­han­nes­burg

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