No rent paid for Saambou building

The old Saambou building on the corner of Charlotte Maxeke and Aliwal Streets in Bloemfontein.

The old Saambou building on the corner of Charlotte Maxeke and Aliwal Streets in Bloemfontein has not been signed off for occupation. This is according to Department of Public Works spokesperson, Mxolisi Maqubela, after claims that the building has been leased by the department for over a year at more than R700 000 a month despite being unusable.

During a media briefing on Monday, Democratic Alliance (DA) Free State stated that the total sum of R726 167,37 has been paid out monthly by the department since February 2018 to lease the building. Premier Candidate Patricia Kopane said that information on the lease would be referred to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.

Maqubela stated that the building, which is currently under renovation, is yet to meet requirements of occupation. “It is for this reason that the building has not yet been signed off for occupation and therefore, no rental payments have been effected to date,” he said.

“There are certain requirements that have to be met by the landlord before occupation of the building can take place. The landlord is therefore attending to those requirements,” Maqubela added. “What we know, is that there is still work happening on site with the implementation of the floor plans as per the requirements of the user department,” he added.

Kopane said the DA will refer its information, including the copy of the lease agreements and the photos of the unoccupied building still being renovated, to the Zondo Commission.

She said the party hopes that the commission will summons ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule to testify, because “the building was leased under the watch of Magashule”.
“We have been informed that this award was made at the insistence of Magashule during his final days in office as premier,” she said. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele