Council is embroiled in a legal fight with its landlord, Scarlet Ibis Investments 220 (PTY) Ltd, for neglecting to pay its month to month rental of nearly R600,000 on the old “Nedbank Center” building in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, in spite of not possessing it since 2016.
Should council lose this fight, ratepayers should hack up millions in lawful charges, loss of salary to the landlords, and penalties on non-installment of a lease.
Sources within the municipality have revealed the figure could be as much as R50 million since the municipality has allegedly not paid rent since 2016.
The alarming addendum
The fifth addendum, which renews the lease agreement for a further three years, and which landed the municipality in a situation of having to pay the loan back on the new civic building as well as on the premises lease at 50 Harding Street Newcastle (Nedbank Centre), has the municipal manager’s signature on it.
Errol Mswane, at the time of signing the addendum, had just recently been appointed as the new municipal manager.
A copy of the addendum was leaked to the newsmen. It states that the lease was renewed by Mswane in March 2016 for a further three years, and expires on July 31, 2019.
The landlord was represented by Shabir Hoosen Goga, who it seems, according to the addendum, was a director of Scarlet Ibis Investments at the time.
The addendum’s terms and conditions further reveal the lessee (the municipality) will not only be responsible for the payment of its water, electricity, sewerage, and security, but also pay an additional R88,000 monthly for operational costs and a further R48,000 for parking.
In addition, the “lessee shall be liable for an admin fee on all overdue amounts payable under this lease at a rate of R10,000 (excluding VAT) per month”.
It is uncertain at this stage whether the landlord has already attached the security deposit paid by the municipality to Scarlet Ibis of roughly R500,000, which was supposed to have been increased to R811,000 in 2016.
The landlord is represented by Shabir Goga and was approached for comment by the newsmen, but said that since the matter is still sub-judice, he is unable to discuss the details of the legal suit.
He did, however, say they were confident that their case against the municipality is strong.
“We have a very good case and we stand by it. Everything was done above board. We expect to go to court in May next year. We will let justice take its course,” he said.
The landlord would not confirm the amount they were suing the municipality for, nor would they reveal what plans they may have if they win the case and the municipality is unable to pay the damages and costs.
Mswane was given the right to reply but deferred the matter to the mayor, councilor Makhosini Nkosi.
Numerous phone calls were made and an email sent requesting him to respond on behalf of the municipal manager, but no reply was forthcoming.