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I am a qualified Attorney. I specialise in Property Law, Commercial Law, Corporate Law and Trusts.
 
Please visit our website at www.prop-law.co.za for more details.
 
I am an elected Committee Member of the Property Committee of the Association of Pretoria Attorneys and through my involvement, I like to ensure that I am constantly at the "sharp-end" of Conveyancing Practice.

I am the elected Chairman on the Gauteng Council of SAPOA. The South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) is the biggest and most influential institution in the property industry. SAPOA members control about 90% of commercial property in SA, with a combined portfolio in excess of R150 Billion (about $22 Billion). I am also on the National Council and the National Legal Committee of SAPOA.
 
Member of the Institute of Directors South Africa and Member of the Sirdar Governance Panel.

18 February 2013

Trevor Manuel failed Sharemax pensioners

In 2006 Deon Basson pleaded with Ministers Manuel and Mpahlwa to act on Sharemax.

In October 2006, journalist Deon Basson wrote to Trevor Manuel and Mandisi Mpahlwa, then the respective Ministers of Finance and Trade and Industry. The letter implored the ministers to do something about property syndication company Sharemax. Basson did not receive a response to his letter. When Basson sent his letter, Sharemax had sold syndications to the value of no more than R1.5bn. It was still in its infancy. By the time of its collapse, in September 2010, Sharemax had sold schemes to the staggering value of R5.5bn. The majority of investors are pensioners.

...

Please see the FULL Article on Moneyweb.

If anyone is interested in a detailed expose of what is wrong with Sharemax, the article on Moneyweb contains a link to the Prakke report.

The Prakke report is an investigation conducted into Sharemax by forensic auditor Andre Prakke. Basson asked Prakke to compile the report to assist him in his legal battle with Sharemax. The 143-page Prakke report was comprehensive and damning. Prakke took particular issue with the investment structure through which Sharemax offered its attractive returns. Prakke argued that this structure was both unsustainable and illegal. He has since been vindicated on both counts. Prakke says he received several threats of legal action, but never received a summons.

Gareth Shepperson

08 February 2013

Fight with property hijackers ends in death : Property News from IOLProperty

Now here is something extremely bizarre!  The Trustee of the Trust that owns the property was thrown in jail for two and a half years after being accused of hijacking the building by the building hijackers.  It is so easy to look at the Deeds Office and see who the owner of the property is and once it is established that it is owned by a Trust, you can ascertain the names of the Trustees from the Master of the High Court (where Trusts are registered).  The whole process should take maybe 2-3 weeks at the most.  How was this man locked up for two and a half years??? 

Questions should be asked of the police and prosecutors who allowed an innocent man to languish in prison.  His reward for getting out ... to be stabbed to death by the same group of people who falsely accused him.

Gareth Shepperson


Fight with property hijackers ends in death : Property News from IOLProperty

One man's battle to evict building hijackers from a Hillbrow building had a bloody ending, with suspected hijackers stabbing him to death with a knife.

The trustee of the Learn and Earn Trust, an NGO that owns the old Florence Nightingale Hospital in Hillbrow, had been battling for years to restore the building to order, but Siphiwe Jeffrey Nzuza in return was thrown in jail for two-and-a-half years after being accused of hijacking by the illegal tenants before he was finally killed on Saturday. He was stabbed several times while walking in Braamfontein.

According to a Gauteng Hawks team which specialises in building hijacking cases, three suspects were arrested at the scene. It is believed they had followed Nzuza from the Hillbrow building.

The old building was donated to the trust by Afrox in 1992 after the hospital closed down.

The trust was formed to promote business entrepreneurship, enhance numeracy and literacy, prison rehabilitation programmes and for transitional housing.

The Department of Local Government and Housing was brought on board to subsidise the transitional housing.

The trail of paperwork shows that Afrox gave R1 million to the trust when it handed over the building. A trustee then allegedly embezzled R600 000, together with a portion of the tenants' rent.

In 2002, the first cracks appeared in the form of mismanagement of the building, slow progress in upgrading the building and failure to set up proper procedures.

A housing company, Vusani Amadolobha, was appointed by the trustees, but a few years later, tenants who had already hijacked the building threw them out.

Many legal disputes followed between trustees, with many resigning and going missing, while the tenants entrenched themselves further in the building. They formed a committee and were collecting R150 a month to run and keep the building clean.

The Housing Department had, in the interim, walked away from the project.

Nzuza was still trying to salvage the trust, but was arrested on December 21, 2010 on allegations that he was trying to hijack the building. He was denied bail until July 10 last year, when he was acquitted.

Nzuza appealed to The Star for assistance shortly after he was released. He said a new group of people were collecting rent.

He said tenants were refusing to comply with requests to leave, pay rent and comply with by-laws. The arrears owing on services totalled R4m.

With tenants refusing to pay rent, Nzuza started evicting them, causing huge tension and anger in the building.

Region F spokesman Shaun O'Shea confirmed that an agreement had been reached between tenants and the trust and that the building would start paying off its arrears and adhering to by-laws.

How the law dealt with the crime


•There are an estimated 22 000 buildings in the Joburg inner city, and more than 1 000 are in the hands of slumlords.


•The highest sentence that has been handed to a building hijacker was 10 years in prison.


•The City of Joburg has established a task team made up of police officers, prosecutors and officials from the SA Revenue Service to reclaim the buildings from hijackers, but has admitted that legal procedures take too long.


•The task team has more than 1 500 buildings on its radar.


•Since August, 36 buildings have been handed back to their legitimate owners.


•Since 2008, more than 2 000 hijacked buildings have been given back to their rightful owners.

Source: Dennis Williams Realtors

The Star

Tshwane cleans up Pretoria city centre

Tshwane cleans up Pretoria city centre


The Tshwane Metro Police will this year continue Operation I Can, its clean-up initiative targeted at the inner city.

As part of this initiative, which started last August, the metro police last week demolished a dilapidated building on the corner of WF Nkomo and Kgosi Mampuru streets.

Spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said during the operation they looked for all types of criminal activity and irregularities related to dilapidated buildings, illegal structures and contraventions of by-laws.

The building belonged to the city. "It was recommended that the building be destroyed. There are no plans for developing the property as yet," said SA councillor Sam Moimane.

The property has been rezoned for business purposes.

Thomas Mangwane who had been living in the old building for more than 10 years, claimed he owned the property but Moimane rejected his claim. "He applied for rights to the property but it was never approved."

Mahamba said operations were planned for at least once a week and involved about 30 metro police officers and the SAPS.

Last Thursday, the metro police confiscated more than 500g of dagga, impounded four unlicensed vehicles and confiscated a trailer.

Rubble and trash were collected and disposed of to keep the streets clean. Illegal water and electricity connections were cut and three electricity accounts were disconnected due to outstanding fees ranging between R150 000 and R200 000.

Vagrants living in old buildings and on the streets were checked and taken to shelters where possible.

None of them was found to be illegal immigrants.

Successes so far

Since "Operation 1 Can" started:


•280 vehicles have been impounded on Church Square.


•Five businesses have been closed down in the CBD.


•87 street lights have been repaired.


•93 homeless people have been taken to shelters.


•20 trees, obstructing the view of traffic cameras, have been cut down.

Pretoria News

FSB stands by Sharemax-tarnished official

Rinate Goosen was compliance officer for a company accused of Fais Act breaches.

The Financial Services Board (FSB) has stood by an official linked to the failed Sharemax investment scheme.

Rinate Goosen, wife of former Sharemax director Gert Goosen, is a manager in the Financial Services Board’s (FSB’s) FAIS enforcement department. This is ironic because Rinate Goosen used to be compliance officer for a company that has been accused by Fais Ombud Noluntu Bam of failing to comply with the FAIS Act.


Rinate’s husband, Gert Goosen, and three other Sharemax directors, have been accused by Bam of operating a Ponzi scheme. In a recent determination, Bam found Goosen and his co-directors directors jointly liable for the loss suffered by a pensioner who invested in two Sharemax products.

Rinate Goosen was the compliance officer of a company called Unlisted Securities South Africa (USSA). USSA has come under severe criticism by Bam in recent determinations.

USSA was established by Gert Goosen in 2004. Its purpose was to provide financial advisers with the licence necessary to sell Sharemax products.



... Click HERE for the link for balance of the article.  (The comments on Moneyweb are also interesting.)


---oOo---

Is it just me or has common sense completely dissapeared?

Although I don't have access to all the details, it appears to me to be utterly ridiculous that the FSB would re-hire a compliance officer so obviously tainted by the Sharemax scandal.  Do the words "conflict of interest" not clang out loudly here?  Is the FSB not just looking for trouble!

I then fail to understand Mr. Anderson's comment when asked if Rinate Goosen's position is being reviewed pursuant to the Ombud's Report that: “The FSB’s position is unchanged in this regard.”  A report confirming the existence of a Ponzi Scheme is irrelevant to the FSB whose position remains unchanged ... can it be?

The name "Mr. Anderson" always reminds me of the movie "The Matrix" and, much like that movie, I suspect that there are still many things that are not as they appear to be in the Sharemax Saga.

Gareth Shepperson

04 February 2013

Opinion: Deon Basson was right about Sharemax

Sharemax is a Ponzi scheme, a Ponzi scheme, a Ponzi scheme, a Ponzi scheme….



There - I’ve said it, and for the first time it can now be said without fear of being threatened with bullying letters from one of the phalanx of lawyers used by Sharemax over many years.

This is the one consequence of the ruling by the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (Fais) Ombud Noluntu Bam, who finally had the courage to blow open the festering sore known as the Sharmax Property Syndications with a courageous and honest ruling that sets in motion far- reaching consequences, both legal and financial, for the advisors, directors and other parties associated with this.



The other consequence is that, unless this ruling is somehow overturned by the Financial Services Board (FSB) Appeal Panel or another court, the floodgates are now well and truly open for financially dispossessed investors, particularly in the Zambezi Mall and The Villa, to pursue their claims through the offices of the ombud.

These two schemes in particular had all the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme: investors handing over money in order to get a little bit of their money back. This could only continue as long as there were other investors in the back of the queue to pay the investors in the front of them.

In total about R2.5bn was invested into these two schemes, most of it now simply gone….

---ooo---

Wow - a very interesting article by Magnus Heystek.  Talk about calling a spade a spade.  Please click on the above link for the full article.

Gareth Shepperson

Tshwane in dire need of student housing

Tshwane in dire need of student housing

Tshwane's universities are facing a student housing crisis, and plans are under way to provide more student accommodation.

The University of Pretoria (UP) is able to meet only 18 percent of its students' accommodation needs, and new avenues for housing developments are being explored.

Tukkies recently advertised the need for private, off-campus accommodation for its students.

This was in response to a request from the higher education ministerial committee for universities and the private sector to enter into partnerships to address the national need - for more than 2 007 800 student beds - as identified in 2011.

Professor Roelf Visser, director of residence affairs and accommodation at UP, said there was a shortage of on-campus accommodation, with 38 500 students being left without this option.

Many students wanted to live in the university's residences, but not all could be accommodated.

"UP intends to increase its residence capacity by seeking private, off-campus student accommodation," Visser said.

The private accommodation would serve as a supplement and alternative to residences.

The number of students accommodated on campus is 8 500 - only 18 percent of the number of enrolled students.

This is 12 percent lower than the national norm of 30 percent.

As part of UP's growth plan for 2025, 8 000 additional beds are to be provided to meet the 30 percent standard.

"We are looking for welldesigned, quality, affordable student clusters with supporting facilities to create a quality living and learning environment," Visser said.

He emphasised the importance of safety, security and a location near the university's main campus in Hatfield.

According to Visser, there were many reasons for the shortage of accommodation.

These included the lack of investment in student housing, shortage of funds and land, and the lack of available high-quality accommodation.

"It seems many students do find accommodation in below-

Tstandard, overcrowded communes with almost no maintenance, security measures and support," Visser said.

Students were often exploited by people renting out these lowquality communes, he said.

Visser expressed the need for additional services as part of the private accommodation offered off-campus.

"Associated services such as provision of food, day-to-day maintenance, security, student support, and transport are required," he said.

Visser said accommodation should be available for occupation by January next year or January 2015.

Proposals for private accommodation developments may be submitted to the university before 12pm on February 22.

Meanwhile, the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has opened the doors to a new private, off-campus housing development.

Junction-S, a student housing provider in Gauteng, recently opened the first phase of a R300 million student housing development, Ekhaya Junction, in Wier street, Pretoria Gardens.

"We are confident that this will go a long way in addressing the student housing shortage in Pretoria," said Cornelius Mokone, director of Junction-S.

Ekhaya Junction will accommodate 2 300 students when the complex is completed in December next year.

The first phase houses 522 students and the second phase, to be completed by the end of May, will add another 324 beds. The bedrooms are grouped into units (for 12 students or for four students).

Costs range between R1 750 a bed a month and R2 450 a bed a month, depending on whether they are single rooms or shared accommodation.

Each unit has a communal kitchen and one bathroom for every four beds.

Some of the amenities provided by Ekhaya Junction include free Wi-Fi, study rooms, kiosks, a games room, laundry facilities and daily cleaning and maintenance.

Ekhaya Junction is connected to TUT campus by a 300m paved walkway.

This will be open for students as soon as TUT gives the go-ahead to install a biometric gate to provide access to the campus.

Until then, transport will be provided.

Students who already live there are satisfied with the facilities, especially compared to their previous housing.

"Compared to on-campus res, I love it!" says Nompumelelo Zungu, 19, a second-year architecture student.

However, the limited space in her single bedroom may become a problem when she has to do her projects, she said.

Neo Monnahela, 20, a secondyear engineering student is happy with Ekhaya as a learning environment because of the reduced noise especially after 8pm.

Since Ekhaya Junction is still under construction, management is open for suggestions and has already adjusted its planning to incorporate more single rooms.

As suggested, a swimming pool and gym are on the table, according to Mokone.

Meanwhile, the Tshwane Metro Council has identified some of its sites for much-needed student accommodation.

A report submitted to the council said the metro area hosted a number of research institutions and universities such as the Innovation Hub, the CSIR, Tukkies, TUT and Unisa, and it had become critical that students arriving in the city from all over South Africa be provided with accommodation.

It was estimated that 60 000 students were in need of accommodation.

The municipality has now identified land in Marabastad for student accommodation.

Pretoria News

01 February 2013

Joburg finances stable but billing is still a bugbear

Joburg finances stable but billing is still a bugbear

The City of Joburg has received another qualified report from the Auditor-General for the 2011/12 financial year.

And the billing problems are cited as one of the reasons for this, together with the city's asset register.

Announcing the report, the city's member of the mayoral committee for finance, Geoff Makhubo, said many of the A-G's concerns had already been addressed and that good progress had been made in resolving the billing "challenges".

The problems identified with billing related to estimates and meter readings.

"Challenges lie with the fact that the system is based in historic records of consumption by residents which are being thrown out by the computers. The A-G said it is taking too long to resolve these," he said.

In terms of the Road Revenue Map released in November 2011, of all queries ringfenced by that month, 99 percent had been resolved.

As far as current queries are concerned, city manager Trevor Fowler said 90 percent were being resolved in 90 days. The average time of resolution of queries was 36 days, and it was hoped to reduce this to 30 days.

"The city's finances are stable, our capital expenditure is at 89 percent and we have R5 billion surplus," he said.

City auditor Quentin Green said the council's cash and cash equivalents had risen compared to the previous financial year due to improved liquidity management strategies implemented during the year.

He said the city was committed to pursuing:


•Improved and accurate billing;

•Improved cash collection of rates and services;

•An increase in expenditure levels for maintenance;

•Elimination of expenditure;

•Profitability and liquidity rates;

•Renewal of IT systems and an integrated accounting database; and

•An unqualified audit.

The Star

31 January 2013

Next property peak 'about 5 years away'

Next property peak 'about 5 years away'


Historical trends suggest that the South African property sector experiences a boom about every 10 years, with significant construction booms occurring every 20 years.

The property cycle peaked in the early 1980s and the property market continues to feel the after math of the latest investment and construction boom of 2001 to 2007. Although the next peak in the market is at least another five years away, investors should see a steady improvement in market conditions during 2013 and 2014. In commercial property this will be reflected in a gradual lowering of vacancies and a rise in real rentals.

Yet the timing and shape of the next upward cycle will be dictated by the performance of the macro economy, interest rate movements and the sector's ability to maintain a balance between demand and development activity.

Over the past five years the market has experienced spurts of positive performance which mirrored periods of declining interest rates. The lowering of interest rates since 2010 helped maintain levels of affordability in the housing market, and also increased demand by investors for listed property.

With interest rates largely expected to remain constant in 2013 and most of 2014, the performance of the property sector will increasingly be driven by economic growth prospects, the strength of household balance sheets and fundamentals in the property market. But continued poor performance of the Eurozone economy and revised downward forecasts for the Chinese economy has dampened South African growth prospects. The strong consumption expenditure, which provided an important catalyst for the retail sector of the commercial property market, is starting to wane.

In 2013, residential property values are expected to increase by 5 percent to 6 percent and will therefore show little real growth. Investors in commercial property will primarily be focused on maintaining returns through a reduction of vacancy rates and operating cost escalations. In the third quarter of 2012 average vacancy rates for A-grade office properties in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, reached a 10year high of 19.9 percent. In Cape Town's Claremont office node A- grade office vacancy rates increased from 8.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to 17.7 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

It is unlikely that rental increases in the office sector will rise in real terms until of f ice vacancies decline to below 8 percent.

Although the market will be operating in an uncertain macro-economic environment in 2013, the slowdown in residential and commercial building activity will result in supply being gradually mopped up as the year progresses.

Investors should also start to experience a market that is gradually moving up the property cycle, with the peak of the cycle still some distance away.

Francois Viruly is Professor in the Department of Construction Economics and Management at UCT.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

85 percent of properties sell below asking price

This is an interesting statistic.  On the surface, it would appear that it is a bad thing (economically speaking) that 85% of sellers fail to achieve their asking price.  However, I look at it slightly differently.  Normally a seller will say: "I want X amount but will accept nothing less than Y amount."

I have recently been watching Million Dollar Listing NY (DSTV Channel 117 in South Africa), and although Reality TV is not Reality, I have yet to see a single seller (both developers and private sellers) achieve their asking price.  This encapsulates what I have experienced in practice.

As I said, my perspective is slightly different and my question therefore is: "How were the unfortunate 15% suckered into paying full price?

Gareth Shepperson




85 percent of properties sell below asking price
The perceptions of estate agents about activity levels in the residential property market in the near future have shifted and deteriorated significantly, the latest FNB estate agents survey shows.

FNB household and consumer sector strategist John Loos said agents reported only a mild weakening in demand activity in the residential property market in the fourthquarter survey, but had become a little less optimistic about the near-term future.

Far fewer agents perceived any positive consumer sentiment in the market and their perceptions might be starting to reflect the significantly weaker economy late last year, which was severely disrupted by strike action in certain sectors, he said.

The survey revealed that 16 percent of estate agents cited "economic stress or pessimism" as a factor influencing perceptions of near-term activity levels while only 1 percent perceived an environment of "consumer positive sentiment".

Loos said this represented a significant swing from 14 percent citing "consumer positive sentiment" in the third quarter and 11 percent citing "economic stress or pessimism".

Agents also still pointed towards very significant financial pressure, which manifested itself in the still high percentage of sellers downscaling due to financial pressure.

Agents indicated a mild improvement in the percentage of sellers downscaling due to financial pressure to 18 percent in the fourth quarter from 20 percent in the previous quarter, Loos said, but stressed the importance of this indicator of financial pressure declining significantly before the next interest rate hiking cycle.

The average time a house remained on the market before being sold declined last year, suggesting greater price realism in the market.

However, the percentage of properties sold at less than the asking price remained virtually unchanged at 85 percent in the last quarter.

Loos said the average time a property remained on the market before being sold declined to 15 weeks and four days in the fourth quarter from 15 weeks and six days in the previous quarter, a significant improvement on the 17 weeks and four days in the second quarter.

This was an encouraging development and suggested some improvement in the level of pricing realism and balance between demand and supply.

However, Loos added that the average time a property remained on the market before being sold at the end of last year still remained too long to represent a strong market.

Far fewer agents perceived any consumer positive sentiment in the market.

Despite agents reporting that properties were spending a shorter period on the market before being sold, they estimated there was only a very slight decline in the percentage of sellers who were required to reduce their asking price to conclude a sale, he said.

Loos said 85 percent of properties were sold at less than the asking price in the fourth quarter, which was insignificantly different from the 87 percent in the second quarter and 84 percent in the third quarter.

The average percentage sellers were required to reduce their price to conclude a sale had moderated mildly from a 13 percent cut in the second half of 2011 to 10 percent by the second quarter of last year.

Overall agents had painted a picture of a better residential property market last year than in 2011 but also started hinting that they were seeing signs of a weaker economy late in the year, which could, of course, be a negative drag on residential property, Loos said.

Business Report

Fais Ombud finds Sharemax directors liable for investor's loss

Fais Ombud finds Sharemax directors liable for investor's loss


Fais Ombud Noluntu Bam has found four Sharemax directors liable for an investor’s loss.

The determination is unusual because it is normally only financial advisers who are held liable for bad investment advice.

However, in a lengthy determination, Bam has set out why she believes the Sharemax directors should be held accountable. The determination was signed on Tuesday. It can be downloaded in two parts here:

PART ONE

PART TWO


The determination could pave the way for thousands of other investors to claim losses from Sharemax’s directors.

For the full Moneyweb Article, go to:
http://www.moneyweb.co.za/moneyweb-special-investigations/fais-ombud-finds-sharemax-directors-liable-for-inv


Gareth Shepperson

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