Management of the R60 million Langa Junction complex has promised to make information available to angry residents who have complained about a lack of transparency in the building and leasing of the 5,000 square metre space.
Residents have complained that members of the Project Steering Committee benefited more from the development than the community itself.
Last Friday at a meeting in Pinelands between management of the complex, including the developers NU-WAY, the contractor, Grand Build, and the agent Ronel Otto, and members of the Langa community task team, including Councillor William Mkholose, management promised to make available to the task team information about the processes, the sub-contracts and the leases at the complex.
On 26 March, more than 200 residents marched near the complex to complain about the allocation of building contracts and jobs, and lack of transparency about leasing of space. They accused the members of the steering committee of granting leases to themselves.
Lumka Yengeni, deputy chairperson of parliament’s labour portfolio committee, addressed the marchers, promising the issues would be dealt with immediately.
Since then the task team has collected more than 200 names on a petition asking for the resignation of the steering committee.
Some members of the steering committee, who had not been invited to Friday’s meeting, gatecrashed the meeting and refused to leave. Among them was Nolubabalo Ntlantlo, the personal assistant of Ward Councillor Neliswa Ngqose, who is on the steering committee. Ntlantlo was granted space for a store at the complex.
After an hour of argument, the committee members left the meeting.
Gaba Tshabalala, who is a member of the community task team, told GroundUp he had applied to lease a laundry store and had been rejected. He said that he later found out the space had been leased to Ntlantlo.
“I applied for leasing to open a laundry but my application was rejected by the committee and they did not even forward my application to the complex agent. The space was kept to benefit Ntlantlo,” said Gaba.
But Ntlantlo told GroundUp as a businesswoman she was used to such accusations. “People must understand that the money that was going to be used to build the laundry is mine and I was going to pay R12,000 a month for it. It is not like it was going to be donated to me.”
She said she had decided to give up her shop as a result of the complications.
She said that when she had joined the steering committee people knew that she was a business person. She said only three members of the committee were leasing shops at the complex.
She said she wanted a public apology for being accused of corruption.
Sihle Tshabalala, a former member of the steering committee, said members of the steering committee had benefited from the development of the complex and had helped their friends to get jobs and leases. He said he had been kicked out of the committee because he questioned the committee during meetings and raised his suspicions.
According to City Vision, Sihle Tshabalala accused the deputy chairperson of the committee, Vuyiswa Ndzakana, of getting a lease for a Vodacom store without following proper procedures, and of getting contracts for herself and her brother.
Ndzakana responded that he was a bitter loser after his own application for space had been rejected.
Jomo Mabandlela who is the chairperson of the steering committee, said that he took the allegations very seriously. But, he said, “those who call themselves a task team are a bunch of people who do not attend community meetings”.
“As a steering committee we called four meetings and the task team hijacked them by throwing accusations of corruption and the committee were never given a chance to respond,” Mabandlela said.
He said committee members gave up their own time to focus on the project and deserved something in return.
Some task team members complained about a lack of transparency about leasing of space.
Azi Bam, who has a shop at the complex, said that he had not seen any aertisement about leasing. He had been to the complex while it was still under construction and found out how to lease a shop.
A disappointed community member said she had found out on Facebook that her application to lease space had not been successful. She said communication between the committee and the community was very poor.
Vusi Mandindi, a task team member, said that there was no transparency in the process.
“We want to see the financial report of the development, leasing processes, and how the committee was elected to represent the public.”
“We as the public want to know how can the people who are meant to represent the public be the first to benefit from the development”, said Mandindi.
Otto said there was no rule that a store could not be let to or let by a committee member, or that shops had to be aertised. She said in general “a minimum of 70%” of tenants had to be national or regional tenants for a financial Institution to finance the project. In small developments like this one the other tenants usually came via enquiries, she said.
Mkholose said that the complaints of the community would be investigated.
Sihle Tshabalala said he welcomed the promise of an investigation.
Source : GroundUp