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Monday May 30, 2016

Gauteng to sell 509 posh houses

The Gauteng provincial government is selling more than 500 upmarket houses in all suburban areas of the province and will use the revenue to build new schools and low-cost houses.

Some of the houses for sale are in Sandton, Bryanston, Sunninghill, Alberton and Centurion and are worth between R1 million and R5m or more as the last property valuations were mostly done in 2007.

This was revealed by Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo, when he delivered his R2.5 billion departmental budget speech in the provincial legislature on Friday.

On Friday, Mamabolo announced that the moratorium on the sale of the houses had been lifted and the government was set to dispose of 509 residential properties valued at R443.8m in total.

The plan is to sell the houses for market-related prices which could bring in close to R1bn.

Mamabolo said the decision to sell the upmarket houses was taken by Premier David Makhura and his executive in March this year. A moratorium on the sale of the houses was put in place in 2009.

"The premier and executive committee directed us to dispose of the immovable assets that are not critical to our core business, and to transfer to sister departments those assets that can give us economic value through their mandates," Mamabolo said.

In March, the Department of Infrastructure revealed that they owned 81 houses in Tshwane, 39 in the West Rand, 128 in Joburg, 186 in the East Rand (Ekurhuleni) and 75 in the south of Joburg. Some of these homes are quite substantial and have five bedrooms.

In 2011, a former senior executive in the Department of Infrastructure, Mzwandile Kibi, was suspended and later quit for refusing to refund R65 000 he owed to the City of Joburg.

The government had to settle his debt.

Kibi had occupied a house in Bryanston since 2007 and lived in it for six months. Kibi, according to the investigation at the time, refused to pay a market-related rental. They were among a high number of defaulters, some of whom had lived in the houses for more than 10 years.

In October 2010, the Department of Infrastructure found that some of the occupants had paid bribes to officials to gain access to the houses and were paying less than market-related rentals for the properties.

Earlier, Mamabolo said they would begin with the process of talking to the people who were occupying those houses and brief them about the sales.

The houses are part of the R30bn Immovable Asset Register of the provincial government which also includes other buildings and land.

"The Immovable Asset Register constitutes the 'common heritage' of the people as a whole.

"It is a source of people's wealth. It is a real source of people's power," Mamabolo said.

"We have completed a new strategic perspective, a new approach on how to unlock value, how to leverage economic value embedded in the Immovable Asset Register to positively impact the key macro-economic variables, especially economic growth and job creation," he said.

The Sunday Independent

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