Pilgrim's Rest businesses plead for funding
The business tenants of Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga are so desperate for funds to pay for a court application for a review of the tender process that almost resulted in their eviction, that they have resorted to soliciting donations from the public and businesses.
Their attorney, Peter Steenkamp, said last week that the 17 tenants had opened an account "Friends of Pilgrim's Rest" on Facebook in which they were appealing for donations.
He also had sent e-mails to businesses appealing for funds on behalf of the tenants, with no success.
"No one has had the decency to respond despite the public outrage at the way these people were treated by the government. Our successful urgent application for an interdict against the Mpumalanga government is an exercise in futility if we cannot go ahead with the review," Steenkamp said. "A lot of research is needed into this."
He said an alternative might be to appoint a marketing agency to raise the funds, working on a percentage commission basis.
He added that the urgent application had been done on a contingency basis and fortunately the court had awarded costs against the Mpumalanga government.
Steenkamp said he was still waiting for the tender documents from the Mpumalanga Department of Public Works, which had to be handed over within 30 days from the day of the judgment on July 28. Thereafter, he will have 30 days to file an application for review.
Marius Brummer, the chairman of the Pilgrim's Rest business chamber, said there had not been a lot of response to the Facebook appeal.
The department, which owns the town and business premises, justified its eviction of the tenants on the basis that it had put all the leases on tender because they had expired.
New tenders were given mainly to black people, with the department maintaining this was transformation. Two sisters were awarded eight tenders between them.
The department did not respond to an e-mail asking for an update on Pilgrim's Rest.
Giving judgment in favour of the tenants, Judge Stanley Makgoba criticised the tender process to find new tenants that was followed by the authorities.
"I came to realise that the tenders awarded are marred with controversy and taken with some measure of illegality," he said.
"There is prima facie evidence that the awarding of the tenders was not made in accordance with a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective as required by the constitution of the Republic of South Africa."