Two property owners struggling with non-payment of rent for buildings leased to the SAPS in Upington in the Northern Cape have been told by an official from the Department of Public Works’ regional office that they can expect payment.
This follows a few days of The New Age’s coverage on the Department of Public Works’ leasing backlog that is not only an administrative blunder, but is threatening people’s livelihoods. Many invested their retirement savings in acquiring properties, living off the monthly income from the buildings.
Danie Botha, the owner of three buildings in Upington who has been paid since December yesterday told The New Age: “I am a relieved person today. An official from Public Works’ Kimberley office phoned me on Friday to say that they had been instructed, most likely by the national department, to pay me the money in arrears up until June. From Monday (today) the department plans to start processing payments.”
Another Upington property owner, Marianne Ellis, also said yesterday that she had received a call from the department’s regional office on Friday to say she would be paid the money owed to her. Ellis had already taken legal steps against public works and was in the process of applying for an eviction notice.
Ellis said: “I decided in consultation with my attorney to stall the legal proceeding and give them (the Department of Public Works) up until the end of the month (May) to pay the money owned to me. The last time I received payment was in November 2011.”
Ellis is supposed to receive a monthly rent of R48000, putting the arrears total at R288000 excluding interest owed to her.
Department spokesperson, Thami Mchunu confirmed the calls to Botha and Ellis were part of an ongoing process to “settle outstanding debts that the department has. We said the process was on the go, it is not only in Upington but across the country.”