Beachfront land deal mired in controversy

Published Feb 26, 2024


Controversy of a council member in Mossel Bay is reportedly in line to score big from the proposed sale of a municipal-owned property, causing an outcry from opposition parties.

The property at Dana Bay in Mossel Bay is reportedly to be sold for R980 000, with opposition parties saying surrounding properties were being sold for R2-R3 million.

Freedom Front Plus’s Danie Acker said they opposed the sale and have mobilised the community to garner signatures in a petition – with 1 300 collected so far – in opposition to the sale of the property which would afford its owners, allegedly family of a DA ward councillor, a “360-degree view of the beach for the rest of their lives”.

FF+ previously said the party were concerned, alleging that a proper public tender process was not followed with the sale of erf 6393 and that the family relation formed the basis of their opposition.

Acker said a municipal meeting was expected this week where the sale of the property was to be an item.

“Our understanding is that the item will now be withdrawn. The FF+ will raise our concerns regarding the way the DA in Mossel Bay deals with council matters recently, that is in secret, not in an open and transparent manner and benefiting individuals not supposed to benefit from public property or money,” said Acker.

ACDP councillor Jeanette Gouws said the correct estimated value of the property, compared to surrounding properties, could be closer to R2-3 million.

“The Constitution says that when the municipality alienates land that they have to alienate it via a tender process but in this instance it was not sold via a tender process. They wanted to sell it directly to the (private buyer). The Constitution also says that public land has to go out on public tender except if its in public interest.

“So in order to meet that criteria they said the buyer would put up two portable toilets on the property and that he would be the security guard of that toilets and would also erect an upgraded condo on the property as well where he and his wife would live.

“We opposed that immediately as it would not be going out on tender and would not be sold at the best possible price that could be got. Wherever the municipality will forego revenue (through the sale of land) it’s actually stealing from the community and ratepayers in Mossel Bay,” said Gouws.

While enquiries to the Mossel Bay Municipality were not answered by deadline, DA constituency head, Jaco Londt, said: “Contrary to what opposition parties are trying to imply, the DA caucus did not bring the item to sell the plot”.

“In accordance with seasoned council processes, the item’s recommendation was prepared by the municipal legal department after receiving an official offer for the disposal of erf 6393.

“The relevant item included many and very strict conditions, among other things that the alienation of the plot would be subject to the applicant obtaining all relevant environmental, Owners’ Association and other appropriate authorisations for the proposed access and use, at his own expense and must provide evidence thereof to the municipality. As with so many previous controversial proposals, including the Ferris Wheel for the Point, the item was brought in precisely so that a public participation process could follow.”

DA councillor, Lodewyk Coetzee, related to the would-be buyer, said: “I did not take part in any decision making of this matter, I recused myself from all meetings where this was discussed.”

GOOD Party’s secretary-general, Brett Herron, said public land belongs to the people of South Africa and is not a commodity that should be sold off by the state at the whim of the governing party.

“Public land must be used for the public good ... Selling it off to a well-connected buyer at below market value smacks of a corrupt deal.

“Land is the new currency of corruption and it is hard to detect unless it is exposed, like in this case.

“The sale should be stopped and there should be a moratorium on the sale of all public land while there is an assessment of current and projected need for land for public purposes,” said Herron.