State has spent R2.3m for util­i­ties on burnt of­fice build­ing

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TE­BOGO MONAMA te­[email protected]

THE GAUT­ENG gov­ern­ment has spent more than R2.3 mil­lion pay­ing the city of Joburg rates and util­i­ties for the va­cant Bank of Lis­bon (BoL) build­ing.

The build­ing, which used to house three gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, caught fire a year ago, lead­ing to the evac­u­a­tion of staff and the death of three fire­fight­ers.

Though the build­ing has been stripped of elec­tric­ity wires, it’s biggest monthly ex­pense is the elec­tric­ity bill of about R141 000 a month.

The build­ing is be­ing pre­pared for de­mo­li­tion later this year. Con­trac­tors on site use big in­dus­trial gen­er­a­tors for their power sup­ply but still use the build­ing’s wa­ter sup­ply.

In an­swer­ing ques­tions in the Gaut­eng Leg­is­la­ture, MEC for In­fras­truc­ture De­vel­op­ment and Prop­erty Man­age­ment Tas­neem Mo­tara broke down the monthly costs for the BoL: R141 000 for elec­tric­ity, R42 000 for wa­ter and R12000 for rates.

Mo­tara said: “We pay rates and taxes be­cause the build­ing is still there. Rates and taxes are for land use and not nec­es­sar­ily util­i­ties.”

She con­firmed that the build­ing still had a wa­ter source but no elec­tric­ity.

Mo­tara said the depart­ment paid all the bills they re­ceived. “We can­not sit and not pay the bills be­cause if we don’t we get charged in­ter­est. What we do is we pay and lodge com­plaints with the city to try and get a re­fund.”

The city’s fi­nance depart­ment could not com­ment on the billing be­cause they did not have the BoL’s ac­count num­ber.

Mo­tara said the depart­ment was on a cam­paign to chal­lenge mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ billing sys­tems. “We are chal­leng­ing the billing of some of our build­ings. We have se­lected, to­gether with pro­vin­cial trea­sury, five build­ings per metro to chal­lenge the bills we are get­ting.”

She could not re­veal the names of the build­ings yet, but said they could in­clude schools and hos­pi­tals.

Mo­tara, who just cel­e­brated 100 days in of­fice, said that of the 18 build­ings the pro­vin­cial of­fice owned in the city, they only oc­cu­pied nine be­cause of com­pli­ance is­sues.

In the pa­pers filed at the Labour Court, Maroleng ar­gued that Makhathini acted im­prop­erly by bar­ring him from ap­peal­ing in­ter­nally. He said Maroleng was barred from ap­peal­ing be­cause he was an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

“Please be ad­vised that there is no in­ter­nal ap­peal for dis­missed ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors, as the dis­missal is ef­fected by the ac­count­ing au­thor­ity,” wrote Makhathini.

Maroleng chal­lenged this po­si­tion: “SABC’s dis­ci­plinary code and pro­ce­dure does not pro­vide that there is no in­ter­nal ap­peal for ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors.”

SABC did not re­spond last night. Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Te­bogo Monama |

KAREN SANDISON African News Agency (ANA)

THE des­o­late Bank of Lis­bon build­ing. |

FOR­MER SABC COO Chris Maroleng

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