Public protector asked to probe golf estate

A formal request for an investigation into a controversial golf estate development which may sink senior New National Party (NNP) members was delivered to the public protector’s national and provincial offices on Wednesday afternoon.

All the relevant correspondence, with supporting documents, had been hand delivered, said Riaan Aucamp, a representative for Western Cape premier Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

This included sworn affidavits, bank statements and other documents.

The DA on Wednesday also asked Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana to broaden the probe into the Roodefontein development near Plettenberg Bay to include the question of whether van Schalkwyk knew of a R300 000 donation to the NNP from the owner of the earmarked property.

Meanwhile, NNP members Peter Marais and David Malatsi will soon face the party’s wrath, after Malatsi publicly defied Van Schalkwyk and Marais implicated the national leader in dubious funding.

“We will study the pronouncements of Malatsi and Marais and the party will consider what has to be done,” NNP secretary general Darryl Swanepoel said. The issue would be dealt with urgently.

Malatsi, the Deputy Minister of Social Development, has defied Van Schalkwyk’s request to quit his national government post, pending the public protector’s probe.

Peter Marais—a former NNP provincial leader, Western Cape premier and Cape Town mayor—fuelled the controversy on Wednesday by claiming Van Schalkwyk was aware of a R300 000 donation by the owner of the development property, Ricardo Agusta.

Marais reportedly said he had consulted Van Schalkwyk about the Agusta donation and that the NNP leader had approved its acceptance. Malatsi, “a junior” in the NNP had not been aware of the donation.

Meanwhile, an affidavit by NNP provincial chief secretary Freddie Adams claims Marais asked him to write to Agusta specifying the party’s bank details for a donation on April 17.

Marais had also asked him for the original copy of the letter and instructed him to delete it from his computer, he said.

A day after the donation was received Malatsi pushed through the decision to go ahead with the scheme despite opposition from his own officials and environmentalists.

According to a memorandum in Sapa’s possession by Ingrid Coetzee, the director of environmental management, Marais and Malatsi, met the developer and his consultant on April 17 and made clear “the development would go ahead in spite of my reservations”.

On April 19, a day after the money was deposited into the NNP account, Coetzee received an urgent message “informing me that the minister has instructed me to issue a positive record of decision by 12h00 today”.

“I was further informed that if I do not do so, that the minister will withdraw my delegation as the competent authority and will issue the record of decision himself”.

Coetzee refused to give consent for the development and on the same day Malatsi revoked her authority and went ahead with the scheme.

Malatsi continued to openly defy Van Schalkwyk on Wednesday and participated in the Cabinet lekgotla.

Presidential representative Bheki Khumalo said on Wednesday he did not know whether the president had already spoken to the deputy minister.
Once he did so he would assess the information and make an “appropriate determination”.

It is Mbeki’s prerogative to fire Malatsi. - Sapa

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