The coast is clear … or is it?

The Democratic Alliance has reported Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile to the public protector after it emerged that he holidayed last year in a house owned by a company that has business dealings with the Gauteng government.

Gauteng DA leader Jack Bloom has asked the public protector to investigate Mashatile’s use of a house on the exclusive Thesen Island, Knysna, known as a playground for the rich.

The property is owned by Sifikile Developers, the company that received a R1.3-billion contract to build the call centre for the Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC). Sifikile is also part of the consortium that received the contract for the R3-billion Gauteng online project.

One of Sifikile’s directors is Fernando Hermenegildo Acafrao. He told the Mail & Guardian that Mashatile and his friend Bridgman Sithole used the house in December last year. “Bridgman and I are friends; he is my business partner, so I met Paul through him. The two of them travelled down together and stayed in the house,” Acafrao said.

He does not see how lending his home to Mashatile involves any conflict of interest because it is Sithole who is Acafrao’s business partner, not Mashatile.

Acafrao said he had hoped to sell the house to Sithole but that, after an alleged racial incident involving neighbours, Sithole lost interest.

Western Cape DA MPL Alan Winde saw Mashatile in December on a powerboat with friends in the canals around Thesen Island. A close confidant of Mashatile said the premier “goes to the coast a lot; he likes it there”, including Knysna.

Bloom said Mashatile’s use of the house raises disturbing questions. “It looks very much like a cosy crony relationship.”

Mashatile admitted to staying in the house and said the arrangement was made by family friends.

“The company that owns the property has no dealings with the Gauteng provincial government,” said provincial spokesperson Percy Mthimkhulu.

“Our information is different,” he told the M&G when pointed to the information of Sifikile’s dealings with the Gauteng government.

Questions sent to Mashatile had not been answered at the time of going to press.

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