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Thursday Sep 05, 2013

Tshwane 'defies own policies' in land donations to churches

The DA says the City of Tshwane seems to be going against its own policies in an effort to donate land to churches.

At last week's monthly council meeting, many of the items on the agenda related to land donations to churches as part of reversing the Land Act of 1913,which celebrates its centenary this year.

The DA opposed many of the more than 20 donations, and asked that they be referred for revision because they went against the city's policies.

Some of the portions of land are zoned as public open space in terms of the Tshwane Open Space Framework (TOSF).

According to the framework, the land may not be used privately if it is zoned open space and has to be rezoned before it can be alienated and donated to the churches.

The DA's Johan Jansen accused the city of being 'in a mad rush to hand out land to churches before next year's election'.

Upon hearing the word 'mad' Terence Mashego, member of the mayoral committee for community safety, demanded Jansen retract the statement and said no one could call the ruling party mad.

All of the DA's proposed amendments were put to a vote, but none were allowed.

Among the proposed amendments were that reports be referred back until the land was appropriately rezoned and that other open land be found for donation.

DA councillor Brandon Topham said the DA was not opposing the donations, rather indicating that the policy did not allow for the donation of inappropriately zoned land.

Joshua Ngonyama, member of the mayoral committee for housing and human settlements, said the churches had been waiting for the land for a long time and could not wait 'a day longer'.

'We are restoring their dignity and will help them (the churches) ensure the land is rezoned,' he said.

Johannes van Zyl of the DA said the process was being conducted back-to-front because the donations were being made before the rezoning had been completed.

The Tshwane Alienation Policy also dictates that a church organisation which owns a site in a said region cannot qualify to buy another site in the same region.

Gateway Church International received a portion of land in Riama Park in Bronkhorstspruit, but was later given a piece of land in Erasmus, 3km away.

Ngonyama said there were many Dutch Reformed churches within a 3km radius of each other in areas like Waterkloof, and that the report was recommended without the DA's proposed amendments.

He added that the donations would be approved 'with or without the DA'.

Some of the churches that will receive donations include Hethlon Church in Mabopane, Fresh Manna Ministries in Soshanguve, Seventh Day Adventist Church in Hammanskraal, Victory Baptist Church in Soshanguve, Church of Christ's Assemblies in Mamelodi, St Moses Apostolic Prophet Church in GaRankuwa and Emmanuel Morning Star Apostolic Church in Mabopane.

At the July council meeting 44 portions of land were approved for donation to churches in the city.

Pretoria News

 
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