Princess Vlei fraud probe stops ‘imminent’ land sale

Cape Times, July 9 2013
Melanie Gosling
Environment Writer

THE city would await the outcome of a fraud probe by the Hawks into the proposed Princess Vlei shopping mall before it could sell the land, deputy mayor Ian Neilson said yesterday.

The Princess Vlei Forum lodged the fraud complaints, alleging serious irregularities.

However, forum members were perturbed when they heard from the Reverend John Oliver shortly before his death last week that the city council was poised to sell the portion of Princess Vlei land to the mall developer before the police investigation had been completed.

Oliver had fought against the mall development.

The city council had made a decision to sell the land to the mall developer some years ago.

Asked to comment, Neilson said the sale was not imminent.

One of the reasons was that the city did not know whether the outcome of the Hawks’ investigation would lead to prosecutions, and if so, how this would affect the proposed sale.

“The National Prosecuting Authority is investigating claims of fraud and corruption on both the development and the process. We understand that this investigation is at an advanced stage.

“We are waiting for a decision of the NPA on whether to prosecute and on whether this will have an impact on the sale process. This may be an important factor for the public to be aware of in their comment on the proposed sale – and on council when it takes its final decision,” Neilson said.

He said the land-use approvals for the mall were in place, and in terms of the original council decision some years ago, the city now needed to agree on a price with the developer.

This process was under way.

In selling the land, the city would have to follow the municipal asset transfer regulations.

Neilson said this would require an initial report to the council, public advertising and then a final report to the council on whether to proceed with the sale.

Kelvin Cochrane from the Princess Vlei Forum welcomed the fact that the city was waiting for the Hawks’ investigation to be completed. “That is the right thing to do,” he said.

Princess Vlei features prominently in Khoisan folklore.

There has been passionate opposition to the shopping mall on the banks of the vlei, a green lung and popular recreation spot on the Cape Flats for generations, but the authorities gave it the nod.

The city’s decision to allow the mall was the result of an unsolicited bid to the council many years ago.

 

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