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Wednesday Jul 25, 2012

Mpumalanga Public Works slows Pilgrim's Rest property evictions

There had been notable concessions by the Mpumalanga Department of Public Works in relation to the evictions of business people from the properties they have been leasing in Pilgrim's Rest.

This is according to Anthony Benadie, the leader of the DA in the provincial legislature. He has been campaigning against the evictions, which he has said will lead to the town shutting down.

Benadie said yesterday: "We are extremely pleased at this stage because in the court documents that will be before court, the Public Works Department is already conceding that it made mistakes in some of the tenders."

He said the provincial government had withdrawn some eviction notices.

"They concede in their court papers that there are some questionable aspects of this entire process. They also concede that there are various parts of this tender process which can be looked at if this matter is taken on review."

Benadie said the department had withdrawn the eviction notice against the Ponyskrants Stables.

It had also withdrawn the notice against the Vine Restaurant and Johnny's Pub after conceding that John Reynders' lease was valid until 2014.

Reynders has been running the two businesses for the past 42 years.

An urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court by the business people issued with eviction notices was postponed yesterday because a lawyer for the government was ill.

The matter would be heard today, said the lawyer for the applicants, Peter Steenkamp.

Steenkamp said the parties to the matter had agreed that the case be rolled over to today.

The group of business people is seeking an urgent interdict to prevent their eviction from business premises in Pilgrim's Rest.

At least 17 tenants in the old gold mining town, which has been declared a national monument, face eviction at the end of the month after being served with notices.

The department says the evictions are as a result of transformation policies. Beneficiaries of the tenders for the business leases have largely been black. This includes two sisters who were awarded eight tenders between them. Both of the sisters own construction companies.

The department said the leases it put out to tender had expired. The tender process was finalised in June.

During the process, it said, it had to check whether all applicants complied with the Public Finance Management Act, the Preferential Procurement Act and tender specifications. The department said on Monday that it would not comment on the case as it was sub judice.

Business Report

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