Cape Times

Hermanus locals claim bribery in land deal

- Melanie Gosling

TEN years ago there was an agreement between the Overstrand Municipali­ty, property giants Rabcav, and local residents to develop luxury housing on the beachfront land of Schulphoek in Hermanus to subsidise low-cost housing in the adjacent Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant townships.

This year the Overstrand Municipali­ty sold Schulphoek to Rabcav for a song, and Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant residents received nothing.

Residents are still reeling at the fact that Rabcav bought the 1.7km stretch of public land, with a market value of R200m, from the municipali­ty for a mere R5.3m.

There was no tender process, and the sale agreement makes no mention of the 590 houses that should have come to Zwelihle as part of the deal, nor the shops or community facilities. These formed part of the developmen­t facilitati­on agreement.

Now residents from Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant are speaking out. At a meeting in the township on Tuesday night, residents told of corruption and attempts to bribe them.

One was told he would be paid if he dropped his appeal against the provincial approval of the developmen­t.

They say the two-year period a developer has to put his developmen­t rights into practice lapsed for Schulphoek on September 2 and are therefore invalid.

When contractor­s moved on to the site on September 9, residents forced them to leave. If Rabcav wants to develop, they say they will have to put in a fresh applicatio­n.

Residents also say that the Schulphoek developmen­t went through so many changes, and got approvals in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2008 – each time for a different scenario. They claim Zwelihle residents were last consulted in 2005.

Tuesday’s meeting, called by the Zwelihle Community Developmen­t Trust, included community leaders.

Bernard Overmeyer, a former ward committee member for Mount Pleasant, said he had lodged an objection to the 2005 approval for the developmen­t because it had failed to “take the community into account”.

“Then people came to visit me at work offering me money I could put in my back pocket if I would take away the objection. I chased them away and said I am here for the community,” Overmeyer said.

He never heard anything from the provincial authoritie­s.

On September 2, 2008, former MEC Pierre Uys gave the developmen­t the green light. Uys did not address the issues Overmeyer had raised. Strong objections by Zwelihle and Mount Pleasant residents were allegedly ignored.

Minutes from meetings between Rabcav and the Overstrand Municipali­ty from May 2005 document concerns that then deputy mayor, Theo Olivier, had about the developmen­t facilitati­on agreement between Rabcav and the municipali­ty.

Minutes record that Olivier was opposed to the Schulphoek developmen­t as it would cut off public access to the coast.

He said the Zwelihle residents were unhappy and had drawn up a petition against it. He said the developers must go back to the community. It appears they never did. Bobby von During, former housing and community developmen­t manager for Overstrand Municipali­ty and now a trustee of the Zwelihle Community Developmen­t Trust, said at the meeting that one of the major problems was when the Schulphoek developmen­t was “split off ” from the Zwelihle developmen­ts.

“This meant the community got absolutely nothing out of the deal,” Von During said.

Von During said Bredell’s investigat­ors had not asked anyone from Zwelihle for informatio­n, nor had any of them been told about it.

The provincial authoritie­s were asked to comment, but had not replied at the time of going to press.

The Overstrand Municipali­ty spokesman Fanie Krige said he believed the Schulphoek developmen­t rights had not lapsed and that there had been no change to the developmen­t after agreement had been reached with the Zwelihle community.

 ?? Pictures: JASON BOUD ?? MAKING A SPLASH: Children from Zwelihle play in the tidal pool at Schulphoek. Residents fear the wall around the proposed developmen­t will cut off their access to the sea.
Pictures: JASON BOUD MAKING A SPLASH: Children from Zwelihle play in the tidal pool at Schulphoek. Residents fear the wall around the proposed developmen­t will cut off their access to the sea.
 ??  ?? EXPOSE THEM: ‘This corruption must be exposed. One of these (corrupt) people trained with me,’ said Makhaya Bonwani.
EXPOSE THEM: ‘This corruption must be exposed. One of these (corrupt) people trained with me,’ said Makhaya Bonwani.
 ??  ?? GOT NOTHING: Bobby von During, a former housing official, said Zwelihle residents got nothing out of the Schulphoek deal.
GOT NOTHING: Bobby von During, a former housing official, said Zwelihle residents got nothing out of the Schulphoek deal.
 ??  ?? OFFERED BRIBES: Bernard Overmeyer said he was offered money to withdraw his objection to the Schulphoek developmen­t.
OFFERED BRIBES: Bernard Overmeyer said he was offered money to withdraw his objection to the Schulphoek developmen­t.

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