Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Government houses Japanese envoys in illegal residential property

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is in a two-year lease agreement with a property owner – Naz Kader – whose block of flats should by now have been demolished by the Gaborone City Council for failure to meet building standards the Sunday Standard can reveal.

This is despite the fact that the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the responsible Ministry, was warned more than a year ago that there was litigation over the property owned by Faheem Investment (Pty) Ltd, arising from a neighbour, Dr. Kathleen O’Connell, who alerted the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Japanese Ambassador Ryoichi Matsayuma, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Phandu Skelemani and the Gaborone City Council Legal Department that the property bears no Certificate of Occupancy.

Faheem Investments (Pty) Ltd issued a temporary occupation certificate purportedly from the Gaborone City Council, dated 8 October 2010, signed by one R. Zachariah ÔÇô Principal Technical Officer (Building Control) to justify the authenticity of the occupancy – a document which has been repudiated as false by the City Council itself. This was before the matter reached the Lobatse High Court.
In a letter written by City Clerk, Bongi Seragi, to the company on 14 January 2011, the company was ordered to demolish the multi-family residential building erected on Plot 2752.
The reasons for the order were, among others, that the company constructed a building without lawfully and properly approved plans.

“You built a multi-residential plot on a single residential plot. You did not have a building permit properly and lawfully issued by Gaborone City Council,” wrote the Town Clerk.

The letter by the Town Clerk was a response to a fraudulent one issued by an insider at the council who had issued a temporary occupation permit for six months.

The Sunday Standard understands that the GCC Legal Department has certain key documents, which have gone missing and which might otherwise assist the courts to establish further the veracity of claims made by Faheem Investments (Pty) Ltd as they relate to the company’s continuing evasion from having its property demolished. It is unclear why it has taken the city council more than a year to demolish the structure after issuing the company with an order to demolish.

There was no immediate reaction from the government or the Japanese Embassy.

It is more than a year since the GCC ordered the company to demolish the block of flats in question. What remains a mystery is why and under what circumstances the city council has failed to execute its mandate to demolish the multi-million illegally built structure.

“On Monday November 29 2010, it came to my attention that Japanese Nationals/Diplomats had recently taken occupancy in apartments of Plot 2752 Nkwe Close and were to stay for a two year contract with the Botswana Government ÔÇô Department of Industrial Affairs (Ministry of Trade and Industry). This was subsequently confirmed by Ms Mpho Ntshese (Principal Industrial Officer) who was not aware of certain events and current non-occupancy certification of the building,” wrote Dr. O’Connell in December 2010 before the matter reached High Court.

Ntshese did not deny or confirm her knowledge regarding the matter but referred this publication to the public relations unit of her Ministry, which was not readily responsive to our enquiry at the time of going to press.

O’Connell further wrote: “This is for your information in the event the Japanese Embassy (whether in collaboration with the relevant Botswana Government contractual employer or independently), may wish to take the necessary steps of vacating the building to prevent any undue involvement and /or embarrassment”.

The businesswoman, as reported in our sister paper, the Telegraph, wants the High Court to direct the Gaborone City Council to act on a demolition notice it issued businessman Kader of Faheem Investments (Pty) Ltd who constructed property next to where she lives in contravention of the Building Control Act.

The Lobatse High Court has been told that the development at Plot 2752 owned by Faheem Investments (Pty) Ltd has no building permit issued by the Gaborone City Council.

O’Connor is complaining that her screen wall and her electric fence were damaged during the building of the illegal block of flats.

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