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PRETORIA, GP, South Africa
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21 August 2013

Sandton property on market for record R60m

Sandton property on market for record R60m

Need a new home and have R60 million to spare? An apartment in Morningside, Sandton, has broken records after it was given this price tag.

The interior of the apartment in Morningside features electric blinds and plush carpets.

But the luxury property could be on the market for quite some time as estate agents try to find a potential buyer.

19 August 2013

Work begins on Midrand’s monster Mall

Work begins on Midrand’s monster Mall

Development has started in Midrand on a R3.5 billion regional super shopping centre, claimed to be South Africa’s largest single phase shopping mall development, for the Atterbury Property Group.

Called the Mall of Africa, the two-level 120 000m2 mall will be in Waterfall City, the heart of a 1.6 million square metre mixed-use commercial estate launched in March last year.

It is being developed on a site that spans both sides of the N1 from the Woodmead interchange through the Buccleuch interchange to the Allandale interchange.

16 August 2013

Landmark Pretoria property auctioned 'for a song'

Landmark Pretoria property auctioned 'for a song'

Nedbank has bought the Sanlam Middestad building owned by businessman Roux Shabangu.

A collage showing Martin Phillip, head of Nedbank Corporate Properties, with his winning bid, the Sanlam MIddestad building, and Roux Shabangu.

The building in the centre of Pretoria was at one stage the headquarters of the SAPS.

Nedbank bought the building for R66 million at an auction held at the sheriff 's offices in Centurion yesterday.

The bank's bid was made in response to an opening offer of R65m for the building, which attracted a lot of interest from the public and the many people who turned up to watch the auction.

The bank held the R320m mortgage on the building, which Shabangu bought in 2011.

The bond had been granted to Roux Shabangu Properties on the basis that a valid, longterm lease agreement was signed with the Department of Public Works. The bank turned to the high court when Shabangu breached payment agreements, and was granted permission to place it under the hammer to recover costs.

Shabangu recently estimated the 18-storey building to be worth R850m.

After he bought it, the building became embroiled in controversy when Shabangu was accused of entering into questionable lease agreements.

At the centre of the controversy was a R500m lease agreement between Shabangu and the Department of Public Works, acting on behalf of the SAPS.

The public protector labelled the lease agreement irregular and corrupt when she investigated it last year.

The then-national commissioner of police, Bheki Cele, was fired by President Jacob Zuma for his role in securing a lease on this building and another that Shabangu owned in Durban.

Cele was fired following recommendations by the public protector, and after being declared unfit to hold office by a commission of inquiry.

Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, who was then the minister of Public Works, and other senior government officials also lost their jobs for the parts they played in the leases on the building.

Shabangu, a property mogul whose dealings extend beyond South Africa, recently came under threat when the Boogertman Smith Building Ltd in Pretoria applied for permission to have his businesses liquidated.

Nedbank stepped in to stop the liquidation, saying that the Roux Property Fund was in debt to Nedbank to the tune of R307 489 559.

Nedbank argued that it was the liquidators and auctioneers who would benefit from the winding-up of Shabangu's business.

The Pretoria High Court granted the bank the right this week to intervene in the liquidation process.

The Mercury

Thousands objecting to Menlyn casino plan - lawyer

I may be in the minority but I believe that these "thousands of objectors" have completely missed the boat!

This is a unique opportunity for Pretoria that is highly unlikely to be repeated if it is rejected for short-sighted and uninformed reasons.

A casino is not a whirlpool that sucks in the innocent and lures them into a sordid world that they can't escape.  As I understand it, gambling is an addiction like many others and just because they open a bottle store slightly closer to the alcoholic does not cause him/her to be an alcoholic.  Similarly, just because they open a casino slightly closer than the 40 minutes to Montecasino does not mean that the whole of Pretoria East will suddenly be corrupted.

On the contrary, the job opportunities and boost to the economy is more likely to give people in the area something to keep "idle hands" busy and therefore out of trouble.

If the citizens of that area are so concerned about crime in that area, I would suggest that they do something about the masses of squatters who have moved into the roadside areas over the last few years.

Thousands objecting to Menlyn casino plan - lawyer

Thousands of objections to Sun International's application for its gambling licence to be transferred from Mabopane to Menlyn Maine will be dropped off at the Gauteng Gambling Board's offices today.

Teresa Conradie, of Motla Conradie Inc, said her law firm was acting on behalf of thousands of people opposed to a casino being part of a R3 billion entertainment development, Time Square at Menlyn Maine.

If the application is approved by the Gambling Board, the casino will have 3 000 slot machines and 100 gaming tables - making it bigger than the casinos at Montecasino and Emperors Palace.

In addition to the proposed casino, Time Square at Menlyn Maine would have a hotel, conference facility, theatre, restaurants and shops. Sun International said the development would take three years to complete.

However, not everyone is opposed to the development. Some people hope it will bring jobs and entertainment to the area. 'The people who object to the casino don't have to go. What about all the unemployed people who could get jobs. Wake up Pretoria,' Maureen Bellingan SMSed to the Pretoria News.

Brenda Mac added: 'Yes, it is about time Pretoria got this type of facility.'

Norma Dunbar said: 'It's about time Pretoria woke up. Other cities have them. It would boost the economy and job creation.'

Daavid SMSed: 'If you are gambler or just like to spend a few bucks to relax, you will do it, so the churches must rather treat the disease than the symptom.'

People who want to gamble will gamble was a general view expressed on the SMS line.

Other people using the SMS line were strongly opposed to the plan, citing the nearby high school and potential social problems, issues also highlighted by Conradie.

Conradie said her firm had been approached by churches and created a draft letter for people outlining a number of objections and leaving space for a person's own views.

'We have received around 4 000 objections,' she said yesterday.

The letter read: 'While I am in favour of positive family-focused development in our city and would support shops, restaurants, hotels and conference centres, I am concerned with the proposed inclusion of a casino in the Menlyn Maine development.'

The objectors say the casino will significantly affect the family-oriented community. 'The development of a casino at Menlyn Maine will make gambling too easily accessible to the community.'

Objectors are worried about the exploitation of those susceptible to addictive behaviours; the plight of the poorest citizens being worsened through the creation of unrealistic hopes; and gambling leading to addicts resorting to crime to finance their addiction.

Another objection reads: 'Gambling can undermine good work ethic as it is based on the premise of something for nothing.'

Pretoria News

12 August 2013

Owner evicted from property after sale falls through

Owner evicted from property after sale falls through

A resident of one of Joburg's top golf estates thought he had made a fantastic cash deal on his house. But now, businessman Paul Gallimore says he has instead ended up in a costly court battle to get his home back.

Paul Gallimore in front of his house in the luxury Blue Valley Estate, Midrand.

The buyers took occupation of the upmarket unit on a golf estate before the deal was completed. The transfer did not go through, occupational rent was never paid and now Gallimore says he is dealing with a nightmare. The businessman has a multimillion-rand house in Blue Valley Golf Estate in Midrand.

For years, he said, he had a wonderful tenant, a former government minister, who paid her rent on time every month. When she moved out, he decided to sell the property.

The estate agent handling the deal told him she had landed a cash offer of R5.5 million that was not subject to a bond being approved.

She said R1m would be paid immediately as a deposit. The only catch was that the buyers needed to take immediate occupation as they did not have another place to stay. They would pay occupational rent until the sale went through, according to Gallimore.

He agreed and the couple - operating under the company name Liciano Transport and Logistics - moved in on April 11 before the agreed deposit was paid over.

The tenant, Nokuthula Licia Ncube, paid an initial amount of R80 000. But no more has been forthcoming.

According to Gallimore, his court costs to date have already exceeded this amount.

He said Ncube had given him letters from the bank, showing her business was about to get a deal worth $4.2m (R41m).

But by mid-July, Gallimore was battling to keep up with his bond repayments and rent on the property in which he was living, while he was not receiving any rental income. He gave Ncube and her husband, Andrew Motsepe, notice that they had to move out immediately as he needed to return to his own property.

The couple did not resist and Gallimore had his furniture delivered to the house. The couple appeared ready to leave, saying they had some furniture still stored in the garage, which they would have picked up during the week.

Then, 24 hours later, Gallimore was served a notice to appear before the high court for an urgent eviction application. The judge ruled that Gallimore had forcibly evicted the couple and he was ordered to move out of his own home and give them the keys.

This was despite his having no other place to stay. And so Gallimore has moved into a room at a friend's place on the estate. His wife has had to bunk down with other friends outside the city and they have had to give away their cat.

'I drive past my house every day and see them. There are no curtains, so it's like a giant fish bowl,' Gallimore said.

To add insult to injury, Ncube and Motsepe did not appear to be living in the luxury home, he said.

'Licia was an estate agent and she worked with bonds at a bank. She knows the law and I think they used that against me.'
The Star has discovered Ncube has two different ID numbers.

It is not the only time the couple have defaulted on rent. A previous landlord, who did not want to be identified, said the couple had rented a house from her, also in Blue Valley Estate, and did not pay all their rent.

Gallimore now has to go through a formal eviction process, which could take several months.

He served notice of the eviction on Motsepe, whom he said verbally attacked him. Gallimore said security personnel had witnessed this.

Ncube refused to comment on the allegations. 'We have gone through the court. What we have done is legal, so I don't have to speak to you,' she said.

A property developer who specialises in buying hijacked properties, Mike Lingwood, said rent evaders had moved up the ladder and targeted the middle class as easy pickings.

'Essentially, they have all the benefits of a five-star hotel without having to pay for it,' he said.

Meanwhile, Gallimore can do nothing but wait for the formal eviction process to go through the courts.

'I don't know where my son is going to stay when he comes home from university. This is a nightmare,' he said.

•Check out applicant with care

Michelle Dickens, the managing director at Tenant Profile Network, a company that checks the background of tenants, said it was not uncommon to see rent evaders target luxury homes.

She said using bank letters guaranteeing that money was coming in was also a common tactic.

Dickens said that even in a sale, it was important for sellers to do a check on their buyers before they handed over keys to the property.

She listed the points below as the main checks that should be undertaken:

•Have a look at their actual ID book; don't just accept a copy.

•Do a credit check on the person before letting them take occupation of the property.

•Be automatically suspicious of people who want early occupation of a property.

•In the case of early occupation before a sale goes through, always treat it as a rental deal.

The Star

New income-linked loan arrangement for first-time property buyers

New income-linked loan arrangement for first-time property buyers

Housing Investment Partners (HiP) is a welcome addition to the South African residential property sector, says Mike van Alphen, national manager of the Rawson Property Group's bond origination division, Rawson Finance.

'Old Mutual and the National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) are the shareholders in the new organisation, which has the goal of helping potential first-time home buyers to acquire affordable homes earlier (up to five years) than at present,' he says.

According to Van Alphen, the home loan devised by HiP will be especially suited to lower-middle income earners with monthly salaries of between R3 500 and R20 000 and house prices ranging f rom R200 000 to R550 000.

'Below this level, first-time home buyers qualify for fully subsidised homes - and this eliminates the need for financial assistance.

'However, in this subsidised market, as HiP has pointed out, the pace of housing delivery is still very slow and resale opportunities are very limited.

'HiP will particularly target employers who are prepared to offer their employees assistance in obtaining homes. The public and mining sectors will be high on the target list, as well as accredited private sector organisations, especially those listed on the JSE Securities Exchange.'

HiP estimates t here are about 200 000 creditworthy potential home buyers in the gap housing market targeted, who might require R75 billion in loans. However, only 25 000 newly built affordable housing units come on to this market each year.

'The traditional banks' ability to service the affordable housing market has been limited by many potential buyers earning too little to qualify for home loans and the fact that future (increased) earnings are never taken into account in awarding l oans. Also, t he banks have to make allowances for unpredictable interest rate increases that might put borrowers' repayments in jeopardy,' says Van Alphen.

'To achieve its goals, HiP has introduced income-linked home loans that provide for loan repayments to escalate annually as they are aligned to borrowers' actual salary increases. Under this arrangement, home loan payments in the initial stages of the loan term are lower, so more borrowers can afford them. Repayments increase in the later stages when borrowers' incomes are higher.

'The enhanced model facilitates earlier access to home ownership and keeps repayments affordable throughout the 20-year loan terms because the predictable loan repayments are aligned to borrowers' salary reviews. The same applies to monthly pension payment deductions.

'Borrowers' uncertainties are reduced by HiP monthly home loan repayments being fixed for 12 months at a level aligned with actual salaries for that period. Loan repayments are always predictable and will increase only when borrowers' salaries are reviewed annually and aren't linked to the prime interest rate.'

Van Alphen says HiP has shown that the home loans are repaid on the assumption that the borrowers' salaries will increase annually by the inflation rate plus 1 percent with the loan settled after 240 months.

'To make matters even easier for borrowers, the initial deposit required will be limited to 2 percent of the purchase price, assuming no employer or government subsidy exists, in which case it is waived.

'The initial fee will be only R5 700 including VAT ( capitalised to the loan where this is required) and an administration fee of R57 including VAT will be paid monthly over and above the bond repayment.

'HiP has assured those interested in participating that the usual prudent credit and employment checks will be carried out and that extensive borrower education will be provided before loans are advanced,' says Van Alphen.

'Rawson Finance has been selected as one of the originators to work wit h HiP in preparing and submitting the relevant mortgage bond applications.

'A product such as this is exactly what South Africa's affordable residential sector needs at the moment - and we hope other lenders will follow HiP's example in helping firsttime buyers gain access to home ownership.'

Weekend Argus
Saturday Edition

08 August 2013

Cape Town's defense of Philippi property development 'makes no sense'

I agree wholeheartedly with the authors of this opinion in the Cape Times. In my opinion, South Africans are far too easily prone to sacrifice the long-term in favour of short-term gains.

I have no specific knowledge of this issue but concur with the authors that (in general) it is short-sighted to sacrifice our futures to short-term expediency.

Gareth Shepperson

Cape Town's defense of Philippi property development 'makes no sense'

Having read the response of mayor De Lille to the many critics of the council's decision to amend the urban edge in order to alienate a significant parcel of agricultural land in Philippi for housing and commercial purposes, we are more alarmed than ever about the current quality of decision-making in the city.

There are a number of dimensions to this:

•The statement that the 'urban edge is an artificial barrier that assists the city with planning and can be moved or amended as needs require', is breathtaking in its inaccuracy and clearly reveals that some politicians do not have a clue about their own policies. The very role of an urban edge, the demarcation of which must be based on careful analysis (it is far from arbitrary), is dependent upon it being, at worst, very long-term and, at best, permanent.

The primary, interrelated purposes of edge demarcation are twofold: to prevent urban sprawl from running roughshod over rural and wilderness landscapes, doing irreplaceable damage in the process (in fact, 'unassailable urban creep' is not inevitable - the edge is meant to combat this), and to promote greater compaction and structural intensification (by channelling growth inward) in the interests of efficiency, greater equity and convenience, and climate change mitigation. By omission, the edge should define the future growth path of the city. It makes absolutely no sense to have such a policy if it is continuously being changed.

•The argument that because people want to sell land, this is a case for changing land use rights, is ludicrous, particularly in relation to agricultural land. For example, the same argument was used many years ago to facilitate the suburbanisation of the agricultural land in Constantia, until there was an administration with the courage to say 'no more'.

The reaction of the remaining farmers was to consolidate agricultural land, to reinvest in agriculture and to diversify. Today, these farms are among the jewels of Cape Town. If people do not wish to farm, they must sell the agricultural land to those who do. It is a primary role of local government to act as custodian of valuable resources for future generations. This council is failing badly in this role.

•The mayor is quite correct in stating that the agricultural potential of the land is not the same across the entire horticultural area. It is particularly threatened in the north-west, where both water and soil quality has been compromised through informal settlement and illegal dumping (issues which the council has failed to address). Given this, it is totally baffling why rights should have been awarded in the most productive part of the horticultural area.

•The argument that produce from the area does not reach the poor is simply wrong. There is a great deal of informal trading which occurs. Similarly, not all of the produce is of export quality: in fact, the produce permeates into all levels of the market. The inevitable consequence of reduced supply will be increased prices, which will negatively impact on everyone, particularly the poor.

Finally, it should be noted that the proposed housing is not aimed at the poorest of the poor, where the real demand lies: it is simply another speculative housing scheme with commercial rights. Whatever happened to a vision for the city? The facts of the matter are these:

•The Philippi horticultural area is uniquely suited to vegetable production. The combination of friable soils, good-quality water and a high water table enables production over 12 months of the year. It currently produces over 50 percent of the vegetable consumption of the city. Reducing its capacity will undoubtedly have negative impacts on food security in future years.

Its productive capacity has been built up through centuries of investment in soil fertility and irrigation infrastructure. This investment will be negated by the land use change. Similarly, there will be a significant loss of skills capacity.

•Philippi's value does not only relate to agriculture. It is also an aquifer recharge area, it has significant ecological value, and is a very important part of the cultural landscape of the Cape. It is, in short, one of the jewels of the Cape.

•The decision to allow development represents the not-so-thin edge of the wedge. There are three aspects to this. First, remaining farmers are unlikely to invest in the land if there is a sense that they may have to move. Second, it will become increasingly difficult, on the ground of administrative fairness, to reject future speculative applications if this one is approved. Third, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the provision of extensive urban infrastructure in the area will attract further development, both formal and informal. Infrastructure has a strong 'lock-in' dimension.

In short, it's a poor, short-sighted and dangerous decision. Once again, we must appeal to Minister Bredell to overrule the decision of the council.

•David Dewar, Julian Cooke, Fabio Todeschini, Vanessa Watson, Nancy Odendaal
School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, UCT

Cape Times

Nedbank to auction property landmark in Pretoria

Nedbank to auction property landmark in Pretoria

The Sanlam Middestad building in Pretoria goes under the hammer next Wednesday as Nedbank tries to recoup some of the money owed to it by controversial owner and business mogul Roux Shabangu.

The Sanlam Middestad building in Pretoria.

The building, worth R850 million, has been at the centre of controversy since Shabangu bought it in 2011.

It will be sold to the highest bidder after the Pretoria High Court granted the bank the right to recover costs related to Shabangu's acquisition of the building.

The bank granted Roux Property Fund a R320m bond in January 2011, and payment was granted on the basis that a valid long-term lease agreement was signed by the Department of Public Works as the lessee.

The SAPS took occupation of the building in 2011 in a R500m lease agreement, sparking controversy when accusations of a 'corrupt relationship' between Shabangu and the then national commissioner of police Bheki Cele surfaced.

The police had also taken occupation of another building owned by Shabangu in Durban, and reports around the controversial leases implicated the commissioner in the flouting of procurement regulations.

After scrutiny by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, a report was released, and it said that the lease agreement had been the result of a negotiated contract instead of competitive bidding.

Madonsela said the lease agreements had been entered into unlawfully.

Public hearings by the board of inquiry, led by Judge Jake Moloi, found Cele unfit to hold office. He was fired from his position by President Jacob Zuma.

Yesterday Nedbank confirmed that the Pretoria High Court had given the green light to its bid to sell the property to recover costs related to Shabangu's acquisition of the building.

'The action follows the breach of payment obligations in respect to finance granted to Roux Property Fund for the acquisition of the said building,' said Anna Isaac, the bank's group legal counsel for its commercial division.

The recovery process, Isaac said, was in line with Nedbank's normal procedures to recover overdue debt obligations.

Former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and other senior government officials also lost their jobs for their part in the lease of the building.

Retailers renting space in the building also fell victim when they went without electricity for more than a week last year, over a R10m bill owed by Shabangu's company to the City of Tshwane.

The Sanlam Middestad building has been empty since the controversial lease was cancelled, and tenants started abandoning Shabangu.

The triple-storey retail podium with double-storey parking bays and an 18-floor office tower currently has 38 tenants in the retail section with short-term leases.

Ten of the 18 floors are said to have been stripped to a shell, according to the Pretoria central sheriff, who is presiding over the sale of Shabangu's building.

Yesterday Shabangu's spokeswoman Percy Shabangu said they were unable to discuss the sale of the building as it was an ongoing court matter.

She said: 'It is something we cannot discuss, it is in the hands of our lawyers, and they are dealing with it.'

Pretoria News

06 August 2013

Munitoria: architect firm loses fight with Tshwane council

Munitoria: architect firm loses fight with Tshwane council

The City of Tshwane was within its rights to cancel an agreement with city architecture firm Holm Jordaan & Partners for the design and rebuilding of the gutted Munitoria headquarters, the Pretoria High Court found yesterday.

Judge Johan Louw turned down the firm's R44 million damages claim against the council.

He said in terms of the agreement between the council and the architecture firm, the latter was only entitled to be paid for work done and not for any damages.

The claim was instituted after the council decided not to go ahead with Project Phoenix -a competition run by the former Pretoria City Council for the design of new council headquarters after Munitoria burnt down in 1997.

Architects in Pretoria were at the time invited to participate, and according to the competition brief at the time, the total cost was not to exceed R160m.

In July 1999, the City Council of Pretoria announced that Holm Jordaan & Partners had won the competition.

The firm was told at the time that its appointment would only follow once the council had taken a decision to proceed with the project.

But before any decision could be taken, the City of Tshwane Municipality took over.

The firm was in 2003 asked whether it would work in a joint venture with a BEE company and to increase the scope and floor area of the new Munitoria - to which it agreed.

The architect firm then submitted an interim account to the City of Tshwane, based on an escalated construction cost of R222 192 960.

It was then once again confirmed that Holm Jordaan & Partners would take on the work, together with a BEE partner.

However, in 2004 the council ruled the Phoenix project unaffordable and initiated a new study into the feasibility of a socalled Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

The council concluded that a PPP model, which would mobilise private sector capital at private sector risk, while providing a stable accommodation cost environment over a long period, was the only viable option.

Project Phoenix was ter minated as it was found to be unaffordable. The council notified the architect firm about the decision.

The firm instituted a damages claim, insisting that it had been appointed as architect for the rebuilding of the municipal headquarters.

This included the design, contract documentation, administration and inspection of the works, as set out in the competition rules.

The council countered that it was a term of the firm's appointment that even if it was decided to go ahead with the construction of the proposed new complex, the council would be under no obligation to proceed with the final design or construction.

It said in terms of the contract the competition winner would then be entitled to payment only for the design concept.

Lawyers for the firm argued that the council could not rely on this provision after it had appointed Holm Jordaan & Partners as architects for the project.

Judge Louw disagreed, saying the council was fully entitled to decide not to proceed with the project. In terms of clause seven of the agreement and in terms of the standard practice of architects, the firm was only entitled to be paid for the work done and not for any damage suffered, Judge Louw said.

Pretoria News

Mandela power cut notice shines light on Joburg billing crisis

Mandela power cut notice shines light on Joburg billing crisis

The City of Joburg has admitted that it erred in sending out a pre-termination notice to the Mandela residence in Houghton, stating there were arrears of about R6 000.

The council not only apologised through the media for the error, but sent officials to the Mandela family to personally apologise for the mistake.

It has also said a full investigation is to be conducted into how the error occurred and said action would be taken against those involved.

Although the street address was correct on the pre-termination notice, the suburb was noted as Oaklands, which starts a few streets away from the Mandela residence.

City of Joburg revenue department spokesman Stan Maphologela said: 'The city wants to convey an apology to the Mandela family for any inconvenience caused by this unfortunate incident.

'The address and account number stated on the notice belongs to another customer and property in a neighbouring suburb, not to the Mandela residence.'
This has infuriated Joburg residents who get sent incorrect accounts, accounts with wrong addresses, wrong meter numbers, and have their services cut off on a daily basis, despite reporting errors.

Metrowatch has received scores of complaints from residents, claiming that their addresses had also 'suddenly' been changed after years of living on the same property.

DA billing spokesman Linus Muller said he regretted the 'angst' the Mandela family were going through with the furore around Madiba's municipal bill and the pretermination notice received.

'Although the Mandela family is entitled to an apology, and an explanation and resolution of the query, this emphasises the extent of the billing crisis.

'The city has committed to taking harsh action against the staff responsible for the bungle. It is unfortunate that after years of billing problems, and the embarrassment that more than R1 billion has been spent on the billing system, it is still not stable and now clearly affects all residents of Joburg.'
The council has never provided The Star with a proper explanation for incorrect addresses, blaming it on incorrect information being loaded onto the geographical information system (GIS).

However, a Craighall resident, Jennifer Culpan, has offered an explanation.

After attending a training course on the GIS map guide application, which is a database of all the properties with erf numbers, meter numbers and infrastructure, Culpan discovered her parents' property used to be on land that was subdivided in the early 1960s.

She discovered that the incorrect numbering has to do with original erf and portion numbers on old maps that have never been updated, especially in the case of subdivisions.

After more than 50 years, the number of her parents' house has been changed.

The street number, since 1956, has been 12. The new house on the lower half of their property was 14. Their residential address was 12, the billing address on their accounts 14.

This is the second time in two months that prominent properties have fallen victim to the City of Joburg's billing chaos. In May, the ANC's headquarters was hit with a R3.5 million bill.

The ANC denied it owed the money and admitted that the incorrect bill 'was part of many bills sent out to many residents which were faulty'.

The council said yesterday: 'Currently, customer data is being cleansed and updated and, therefore, occasional errors like this may occur. We wish to apologise to any customer who might have had a similar experience.'

•Residents hit by billing mistakes nuisance

Councillor Tim Truluck says a resident in his ward also got a 'Madiba pre-termination letter'.

Parktown North resident M Gohla-Neudecker got her letter delivered to 18 First Avenue West instead of First Avenue East.

Another resident, Gunther Linzer, says he has the erroneous street address on his utility bill, which has been wrong for several years now. It reads as 177 Ellaline Road, Mondeor, instead of number 18. 'It would be nice to have it finally corrected at some stage before I die,' he said.

City Power has been 16 times to Tracy Smid's property in Craighall Park to record the correct meter number and to take photographs. Two sets of auditors have visited her home, yet her meter number is still incorrect and she is constantly threatened with disconnection and being handed over to debt collectors;
Isaac Pin of Bertsham, Ridgeway, has been receiving phone calls from the council's legal office, saying her account was overdue.

'I asked for the statement and found the postal address was not mine. I am an 85-year-old person and not too mobile, so it is a big problem.'
Lucas Opperman has been living at 77 Deneys Reitz Road, Roosevelt Park, since February 1983, and about two years ago, the address was suddenly changed to 75 Deneys Reitz Road.

'I sent monthly e-mails to the mayor's office, then intermittent e-mails to the council itself about a year ago.' He has received one acknowledgement, but nothing has happened since.

The Star

Joburg objects to 63 000 property valuations

Joburg objects to 63 000 property valuations

In a bizarre move that is going to affect thousands of residents, the City of Joburg has objected to the new valuation of almost 63 000 properties on the recently released general valuation roll.

The question now being asked is: Why is the city being allowed to object after May 3, the cut-off date for objections?

Another question is: If there are now some 88 000 objections, or 11 percent of the valuation roll, did the valuers do a proper job in the first place, and what are these objections going to cost the council?

Most residents received a valuation notification in February or March, giving their new valuations and calling for objections before May 3. The new roll came into effect on July 1.

There were 25 000 objections, but now the council has belatedly objected to a further 63 000 valuations. Residents have been receiving letters from the municipal valuer informing them that the city has objected and saying they should make submissions about the value of their properties.

However, the city hasn't indicated the price it thinks the properties should be valued at, which attorney Chantelle Gladwin says renders the notices void.

Under the proposed new valuation figure, it states: 'Review of value required if under or overvalued.'

Gladwin says: 'The city is flouting several laws. It doesn't understand that consumers have rights in terms of the constitution, access to information and administrative law, to be given the information they need to exercise or make a decision.

'The fact that an owner has a right of appeal doesn't mean the city can blatantly negate the owners' rights to just administrative action during the objection process.'

The city's refusal to comply with the most basic laws caused consumers to suffer thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - of rand in financial losses, effort and time because they didn't know what to do and were seeking legal assistance, or using valuers to submit objections. Also, says Gladwin, because the municipality puts the same property on several supplementary rolls, owners have to do this several times, at great cost.

'In my legal opinion, this is an abuse of the powers in the Municipal Property Rates Act, and the court should not condone this.'

And, to add to the confusion, the letters are dated May 31, but were delivered only a few days ago. They give 45 days from May 31 to make submissions. The DA has accused the ANC-led council of attempting to extort additional rates.

DA finance spokesman John Mendelsohn said: 'A report to the finance section 79 committee, when the roll was compiled, stated that a rigorous quality audit would be done before it was published so that objections could be contained to a more acceptable level of 5 percent.'

The supplementary roll was published in May to, among other things, cure omissions and correct errors, so these additional properties should have been added there.

Mendelsohn said objections took about 18 months to be heard, and, meanwhile, residents were expected to pay higher rates.

Also, the inaccuracy of values on the general roll could have a negative effect on the city's rates income and render uncertain the estimated budgeted income from rates.

Revenue spokesman Kgamanyane Stan Maphologela said the notices were only 'statement' letters from the municipal valuer advising that the city had lodged an objection to the value, and if the owner wished, they too could make a submission.

'It's important to note that the valuer and the City of Joburg are different parties in this instance.'

Because notices were delivered late, the date of acceptance of submissions has been extended to August 16.

The Star