The eThekwini Municipality is investigating how its officials sold a prime piece of real estate in Durban North for R200 000, labelling the sale as ‘fraudulent’, notes a Sunday Tribune report.

Attorney Nico Gey van Pittius, acting on behalf of the Riverside Hotel, said in a letter sent in October that his clients learnt about the ‘illegal sale’ of a Durban North property by complete chance.

Gey van Pittius said his clients had a ‘substantial interest’ in two neighbouring properties which were said to have a combined value of R15m and could fetch monthly rentals of R100 000.

His clients requested he do a check for any encumbrances or servitude against their title deeds.

That’s when he learned about the 2012 sale of one of the properties for R200 000 to Shabeer Joosub, who immediately ‘sold’ it to a company he owned, but the transfer of the property only happened in July.

Lindiwe Khuzwayo, the municipality’s spokesperson, confirmed: ‘Our City Integrity and Investigations Unit is investigating the sale of the property for R200 000 as this is fraudulent.’ 

In the letter, Gey van Pittius listed what he believed were indiscretions committed in the supposed sale, and requested the municipality’s response.

He said his clients had been using the properties in question since 1998, with the municipality’s knowledge and approval as overflow and conference centre parking.

‘The property and its continued usage is extremely important to our client as it forms an integral part of their business and its ability to attract commerce to Durban,’ wrote Gey van Pittius.

When his office approached the Pietermaritzburg Deeds Office and conducted further checks on the properties, they found one of the properties spanning nearly 2 000 square metres was owned by the municipality.

However, the other property that measured more than 10 000 square metres was sold to Joosub on 12 November, 2012, for R200 000. 

As a start, Gey van Pittius requested that the municipality urgently provide responses to the following: how did they sell land worth millions to Joosub for R200 000, what municipal laws justified their actions, and whether a public participation process was followed.

Attorney Fathima Rajah, Joosub’s legal representative, reportedly told the Sunday Tribune she would not be commenting on allegations if the municipality was doing an investigation, as it could be used against her client in the future. Rajah also indicated that they were not approached by the municipality regarding the matter.

Full Sunday Tribune report