Malema mansion auction: Enter the paparazzi

Julius Malema's house was snapped up quite fast during the auction on Thursday. (Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Instagram)

Julius Malema's house was snapped up quite fast during the auction on Thursday. (Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Instagram)

The auction of Julius Malema’s half-finished mansion in Sandton went almost like any other. The auctioneer’s silver gavel controlled proceedings while people lifted paper slips or gave subtle nods to bid. But during this auction, each twitch of a hand was greeted by the clicks of dozens of cameras.
In the end, the abode went for R5.9-million – R2.3-million more than Malema paid for it in the first place. 

The house sits on a corner in residential Sandown, opposite a pre-school with children whizzing along on plastic scooters. The shell of a guardhouse welcomes guests into a parking area under the kind of giant arch you see at a hotel entrance. The house is so big that a few bidders said they wanted the premises for their businesses.

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Grey cement walls, the height of three people, block out any light. The cold shadows they cast around the house are the only space that is not built on. A solitary tree clings to life next to the deep holes where the wine room and infinity pool are meant to go. The red brick patio around the tree is the only remnant of the house Malema knocked down to start his triple-storey home.

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Upstairs, open-plan rooms with wide spaces for windows all have views into the neighbours' yards and look over the swimming pool. The domestic worker’s quarters also have wide windows, which look out onto the towers of Sandton in the distance.

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The bidders, who all had to pay a R100 000 refundable deposit, sat in a long room in one wing of the L-shaped house. Their faces were lit by the constant flashes of cameras. At two points during the sale the auctioneer had to ask the people taking pictures to move so he could see the would-be buyers.

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Bidding started at R5-million but quickly dropped to R2-million, when the impeccably-suited auctioneer had his first bite. Offers then climbed by R250 000 a time, with the cameras scrambling to each new bidder. By R4-million it was clear that two people wanted it and the increments decreased. Five minutes later, Norman Tloubatla, chief executive of Magnified Designs, raised his piece of paper with his bid in the air, claiming it at R5.9-million.

  
Images by Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Instagram

He stayed long enough to sign some paperwork – his face sweating from the camera spotlights surrounding him – before he rushed to his white Porsche and drove off, refusing to comment.

Then conversation among auction attendees turned to how over-priced the house was and how frantic the journalists were. “I’ve never seen the paparazzi in action. That winner is a new celebrity,” said one man.

Malema now owes the South African Revenue Service only R10.1-million in unpaid taxes.  

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