PP should probe Cape Town's Growthpoint land deal – GOOD

Company appears to derive financial benefits from city administrations, also in Joburg

Good MPL Brett Herron asks Public Protector to probe City of Cape Town's Growthpoint land deal

5 July 2019

The GOOD Party’s Member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature Brett Herron has asked the Office of the Public Protector in Cape Town to probe whether the sale of a prime piece of property in the Central Business District by the City of Cape Town was above board.

Civil society organisations opposed to the sale say Growthpoint Properties paid approximately R140m less than the property was worth when it bought Site B, in Lower Long Street, in 2016. An alleged City of Cape Town forensic report on the matter, which the City this week refused to release to the public, apparently finds nothing irregular about the sale, and that nobody can be held responsible for any losses.

Herron said GOOD party policy dictated that public land be used for public good as a critical step towards South Africa achieving social, economic, spatial and environmental justice.

If profits are made from the sale of valuable assets belonging to the State those profits must accrue to the citizens, not private companies. In this instance, instead of the developer scoring a walloping R140m discount, the City could have used the additional cash to build 1000 fully subsidised homes, several new libraries, or to install better lighting and surveillance equipment in communities that bear the brunt of gangsterism and crime.

Besides determining the legality of the deal process, we hope that the Public Protector – which is already investigating allegations of massive rates discounts afforded to Growthpoint by the City of Johannesburg – is able to establish the true nature of the relationship between the DA and the giant property company. If any major company is profiting from relationships with DA administrations in Cape Town and Johannesburg, as alleged, how does the DA benefit from the relationship?”

* In April, GOOD requested the City of Johannesburg’s integrity commissioner to investigate the alleged R200m annual rates discounts Growthpoint receives in that City. Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is a former Growthpoint Director. GOOD approached the integrity commissioner after receiving a detailed investigative report compiled by a whistle-blower, who also submitted the report to the Public Protector. According to the report, Johannesburg homeowners are charged rates based on the true value of their properties, while corporate ratepayers are collectively under-charged by approximately R1.5 Billion a year.

Issued by Brett Herron on behalf of GOOD, 5 July 2019