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Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

Bid to stop R7.5m Pietermaritzburg land sale

Sunny Gayadin, the businessman who tried to stop the sale of Durban's Natal Command site to film-maker Anant Singh, but lost his case in the Constitutional Court, is now battling the Pietermaritzburg municipality in the city's high court.

The fight is about the R7.5 million sale of land adjoining the Midlands Mall, which the mall's owners, Liberty Group Properties, bought from the municipality to expand the shopping centre.

Gayadin and businessman Prakash Maistry, who owns the company Epilite 123 cc, want the sale of the property to be declared null and void. If the property has already been transferred to Liberty, they want an order reversing the transaction.

In selling the land, Gayadin alleges the municipality did not follow the proper procedures, including advertising its intention to sell its land.

He was interested in developing the property for commercial purposes with shops and offices, similar to what Liberty contemplated doing, he said.

In court papers, Graham Kusano of Liberty said the objections from Gayadin, or through the various corporate entities under his control, were not genuine.

Kusano said Maistry did not appear to conduct any meaningful business activities, while Gayadin had not been personally involved in property development.

Advocate Alastair Dickson SC, for the municipality, said that, according to the municipality's land disposal policy, Gayadin and Maistry were excluded as buyers because they had not owned land adjoining the mall.

"You can sell the next-door property to an adjoining business for expansion," he said.

In law, Gayadin and Maistry had no interest in the property. There was also no tender or bidding process the businessmen were entitled to be part of, as the sale was private.

"The sole intention behind the applicants is to prevent the sale and to create a bargaining position for them in respect of Liberty," said Dickson.

Another of his submissions was that the application should be dismissed because it had been brought too late.

Advocate Peter Olsen SC, along with advocate Hoosen Gani for Liberty, submitted the company had already spent R18.3m preparing the property for development.

Soon after Gayadin and Maistry launched their application, they issued a press statement saying they had the backing of a consortium consisting of "several professionals, heavyweight businessmen and property tycoons" who were local citizens and ratepayers.

The Mercury

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