Probe into Bo-Kaap fraud al­le­ga­tions

Com­plaint lodged against the City re­lates to land sold to prop­erty de­vel­oper

Cape Times - - FRONT PAGE - FRANCESCA VILLETTE [email protected]

BO-KAAP res­i­dents have lodged a fraud com­plaint with the po­lice against the City re­lat­ing to the sale of Bo-Kaap land to prop­erty de­vel­oper Blok Ur­ban Liv­ing.

Res­i­dents al­leged that the City con­tra­vened the Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act dur­ing the process.

Act­ing on be­half of the res­i­dents, com­mu­nity ac­tivist Hanif Loonat said he had lodged the fraud com­plaint at Cape Town Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion of con­spir­acy to com­mit fraud and theft, and con­tra­ven­ing the Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act and the Preven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act.

Po­lice spokesper­son FC van Wyk said: “A case of fraud has been reg­is­tered for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The land in ques­tion is the former St Mon­ica’s Old Age Home in Lion Street, which is also sus­pected to once have been ear­marked for so­cial hous­ing.

The prop­erty de­vel­oper had pur­chased the site in March last year, and the City had ap­proved the devel­op­ment of 56 res­i­den­tial units.

“It’s al­leged the sale was fraud­u­lent and filled with col­lu­sion. It’s al­leged the City un­law­fully ben­e­fited in the sum of R13 mil­lion be­cause of the sale. Also al­leged is that cer­tain doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the sale had dis­ap­peared and are no longer avail­able for pe­rusal. We are of the view that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is nec­es­sary,” Loonat said.

“Thou­sands of tourists have come to see and ex­pe­ri­ence our way of life. A life full of colour, fun, pa­tience and tol­er­ance. A life which is fast run­ning out, and our peo­ple have had enough of this City’s im­moral and cor­rupt agenda. That’s why we opened a case against the City on the sale of the St Mon­ica home and the land ad­ja­cent to it. This is to be de­vel­oped in the best in­ter­est of a few who don’t live in it, and at the ex­pense of those who live in it. We will never be fooled into ac­cept­ing gen­tri­fi­ca­tion that ben­e­fits no one but a few un­scrupu­lous, self-en­rich­ing and self­ish in­di­vid­u­als,” he posted on so­cial me­dia.

City spokesper­son Priya Reddy said the City would con­sider rep­re­sen­ta­tions on the mat­ter. Blok has de­nied un­law­ful­ness, and said the pur­chase as well as the devel­op­ment was in ac­cor­dance with the law. It said it had given the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion in 2017.

“Blok has made a great deal of in­for­ma­tion avail­able to the Bo-Kaap Civics and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion as well as other or­gan­i­sa­tions re­gard­ing the pur­chase, par­tic­u­larly land in­for­ma­tion and coun­cil plan in­for­ma­tion.

“Blok has de­vel­oped as openly as pos­si­ble and made numer­ous at­tempts to en­gage the civics con­struc­tively. How­ever, those at­tempts have not been met with the same in­ten­tion,” Blok said.

The case by Loonat was filed min­utes after a chal­lenge of an in­ter­dict brought by Blok against res­i­dents was post­poned in the Western Cape High Court. Blok had, last month, ap­plied for an in­ter­dict bar­ring res­i­dents from “un­law­ful con­duct” at the de­vel­oper’s con­struc­tion site.

It came months after they had with­drawn a pre­vi­ous in­ter­dict served on “all per­sons caus­ing ob­struc­tions, un­law­fully con­duct­ing them­selves or at­tempt­ing to cause ob­struc­tions, or un­law­fully con­duct them­selves at the Lion Street site”.

Bo-Kaap Civic As­so­ci­a­tion chair­per­son Os­man Sha­boo­d­ien said the case was post­poned to De­cem­ber 18, adding a mini vic­tory that came out of yes­ter­day’s pro­ceed­ings was that no cranes were al­lowed in the area un­til then.

“An­other vic­tory is that we un­cov­ered cer­tain things re­lat­ing to the sale, point­ing to al­leged col­lu­sion.”

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