By Reuben Pitse
The minister of Local Government Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has challenged Kgatleng district council to take a decision on whether to open a controversial multi-million shopping complex that has become a “white elephant” or to demolish the building once and for all.
According to Kgatleng district council secretary Mpho Mathe, a decision about the future of a multiÔÇômillion pula shopping complex commonly known as Mochudi wholesalers will be taken sometime early 2019.
He also said the minister of Local Government has given the council an ultimatum to decide on the future of the building.
“I strongly believe that the decision will be taken sometime early next year and it will be a closed chapter,” says Mathe, adding that such a decision when taken should be centered mainly on the safety of the general public. Amongst other things, he said when he was transferred to Mochudi sometime around August this year he personally questioned the future of the building. He also said he is currently going through all the documents to familiarise himself with the situation regarding the complex.
“You may recall that a decision has long been taken by the courts in favour of the council but there are several things that the council should carefully observe and such observation need not need to be rushed because once rushed the results impact negatively on both the public and the environment,” he said.
He revealed that the owners of the building have approached his office and proposed to the council the way forward.
“I have an open door policy in which anybody can come to my office and discuss issues in order to resolve disputes. In this particular case they also have to approach my office and I have to listen to them, maybe they may come up with a better solution and I should not close them outside,” he said.
Mpho Morong who is the Kgatleng council chairman has also shared the same sentiments as Mathe. “It is true that recently the minister of Local Government gave us an ultimatum about the future of the controversial building,” says Morong.
He stated that the council will certainly meet and take a final decision about the building and such a decision will be based on the best interests of the public. “I personally want this chapter to be closed because it has long been dragging for over ten years and the council also needs closure,” he said.
Earlier a confidential report passed to this publication dated 28th of May 2013 revealed that at a full council meeting held between 18th and 27th of March 2013, appointed a negotiation task force comprising of five councilors to negotiate with Mochudi Wholesalers on behalf of the Council.
The taskforce included Chief Principal Planning and Estate Management Officer, Chief Mechanical Engineering Officer, Principal Road Engineer, Chief Architectural and Building Services Officer, Principal Structural Engineer, Quantity Surveyor and Council Attorney.
The report revealed that advocate Sidney Pilane submitted that Enamoolla Khan, the Managing Director of the wholesalers, engaged a team of professionals, comprising of architects, and assumed that they will do their work diligently only to find out that some things were not done accordingly.
He acknowledged failure to fulfill the requirements of the Act. And that there is no justification for the failure to meet the prescribed requirements.
After putting his case on the table, Pilane pleaded with council to issue the wholesalers with occupational permit.
However, in response to advocate Pilane’s submission, the Deputy Council Secretary, Jayson Sechele, said the Council cannot establish the structural stability of the building due to the fact that no inspections to ascertain the same were carried out and no building permits were issued at all the stages. He highlighted that roads department’s requirements were not met, there was no step by step inspection of the building by the local authority and drawings were not submitted for inspection and approval as per the procedure.
Deputy Council secretary stressed no life is worth any amount of money and the council cannot risk the lives of so many people.
The building was completed sometime around 2003 and since then it has never been issued with an occupational permit.