The curious tale of a land confiscation that nobody can explain.
It was the new South Africa, 1995, and Don Sipho Mashele had become a member of the SANDF (he is now a colonel). His wife Alberica decided to do something that apartheid had denied them: the right to buy a 4.0471-hectare agricultural smallholding in Homestead Apple Orchards, near Vereeniging. The property was on the market for R40,000. The couple used their savings for the R16,000 deposit and obtained a R24,000 bond from FNB for the balance. The property was transferred into Alberica’s name and a bond was registered in FNB’s favour in 1996.
Assuming they would only have to pay rates once the De Deur Municipality connected their piece of land to the municipal services’ grid and provided them with water, electricity and sewerage, they sat back and waited – a decision that turned out to be very costly; services or not, the council already had its rates “meter” running.
Mashele told Noseweek that in 1999 he was alerted by his area councillor to the fact that he and his wife owed money “for land tax” – in fact, municipal rates for services that were still not available to the Masheles’ erf 59. Unbeknown to them ...