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Monday Oct 23, 2017

Tshwane mayoral mansion up for sale

The sale of the City of Tshwane mayoral mansion will put a roof over the heads of about 50 residents and their families, taking them off the long housing waiting list.

The mayoral mansion property has a large swimming pool.

Executive mayor Solly Msimanga opened the controversial house, valued at R5 million, for viewing by potential buyers.

"The money will be used for building houses.

"We hope that we can build at least 40 or 50 houses, if not more. But we will also see if we build them per region or we do it once in an area and ensure that people who have been on the housing waiting list begin to benefit from it," Msimanga said.

Asked if he was the modern day Robin Hood who took from the rich and gave to the poor, the mayor said: "It is an issue of ensuring that people benefit from the money that is theirs; so we are simply taking from the people and giving to the people."

The double-storey house in Muckleneuk has four bedrooms (two of them with en-suite bathrooms), a double garage and a third garage with a storage room.

It also has a patio, balconies, an entertainment area, two workers' quarters and a swimming pool.

The former ANC administration spent R12m on renovations on the mansion, but property evaluators priced it at only R5m.

Msimanga said that in their report, evaluators said the upgrades included the plumbing and landscaping.

Another part of the renovation was to install a video conferencing room and make the house conducive for the mayor to host diplomats.

But during Msimanga's visit last year, he found the house was in a bad condition owing to poor workmanship.

Cupboards, closet doors and garage doors were falling apart.

Rainwater seeped in through the badly tiled roof.

Msimanga said it was unfortunate they could not sell the property for R12m, but they had already made peace with that fact.

At the time, he said they would not continue to spend money on the property which was for the benefit of the people of the capital.

"So we want to make sure that we dispose of it and use the money to ensure that a number of families eventually get a roof over their heads.

"The furniture will, however, not be included in the auction of the house.

"We might end up auctioning it separately as we normally dispose of assets of the City."

Another reason Msimanga could not use the property was that "the buying and renovations that went into it were controversial".

"We don't want to ever have to spend much more money going forward on this property at the expense of city residents," he said.

"It really doesn't help or serve any purpose because it has been here and I have never had any meeting or slept there even once."

The R12m used towards the renovations for the property gave rise to an investigation.

Msimanga said criminal charges had already been laid against those responsible.

"Forensic investigations are very telling on who is involved in the money allegedly spent on renovations. We have laid criminal charges and opened a case with the SAPS.

"We are waiting for the law to take its course but unfortunately we cannot take action against the person who is no longer employed by the City and that is where we find ourselves," the mayor said.

He was, however, frustrated that the justice system was taking forever to attend to the matter.

But at the same time he was hopeful as some cases such as the multi-million Peu smart meter contract eventually had their day in court – and that victory was won in favour of the people.

Pretoria News


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