Probe into Stellies council ‘land swap’

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell. Picture: Independent Newspapers Archive

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell. Picture: Independent Newspapers Archive

Published May 9, 2024


The Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning is investigating a complaint against Stellenbosch Municipality, accused of allegedly denying the local community their right to public participation concerning a proposed land swap with a private developer.

The matter relates to the proposed swap of prime municipal land for an erf allegedly of less value, owned by a private developer, and involving the Botmaskop Estate development in Stellenbosch by developer Staytus Collection.

A complaint by the GOOD Party to Local Government MEC Anton Bredell details how chapter 4, sections 21 (1) (a)(b) of the Municipal Systems Act, Act 32 of 2000 and Regulations were allegedly not complied with as the community did not have an opportunity to comment on the matter because it was advertised in a paid for newspaper and not the free local community paper.

Bredell’s office said: “The department is currently conducting an investigation and will provide a response upon its completion. This is expected to be by early next week.”

According to a council meeting agenda dated February 21, where the matter was first discussed, the document noted: “On 16 April 2018 an encroachment agreement was entered into between the municipality and the Reset Property Development. The developers of the Botmaskop Development has now requested that council consider a possible land swap for this encroached area (adjacent to the Botmaskop Estate Development), portions of erf 3363 and Remainder of Farm 333 Stellenbosch for a similar size portion of land higher up against the mountain portion of portion 2 of farm 490 Stellenbosch.”

GOOD Party councillor Marius van Stade said at a meeting on February 21, council resolved to advertise the Botmaskop Estate Development land swap agenda item for public participation after the GOOD Party raised their objections.

“The executive mayor and her mayoral committee supported the land swap, while the same municipal land was promised to build subsidised and affordable houses for residents of Idas Valley in Stellenbosch.”

Van Stade further said he had received complaints from several communities about not being afforded an opportunity to give their input or comment on the matter.

Van Stade added that the party was calling for the advertisement to be republished in the free local newspaper.

Stellenbosch Municipality spokesperson Stuart Grobbelaar said: “The current council has not taken any decision around a so-called ‘land swap’. An application was received but has not been approved as the matter has been put out for an open and comprehensive public participation process. It was advertised in ... the largest daily newspaper in the region.

“This development has had a right of existence for more than two decades. This is private land and not municipal land. On 3 November 2003 the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning issued a positive Environmental Impact Assessment Record of Decision, authorising the construction of a small mountain resort with spa, conference centre, restaurant etc. on portion 2 of farm 490, Botmaskop.

Developers, Staytus Collection, did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Cape Times