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SARS and old Woolworths building under the hammer

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The SA Revenue Service building that is situated on the corner of Bean and Villiers streets and the old Woolworths building in the CBD will go on auction on July 20.

The Sars building on the corner of Bean and Villiers streets will go on auction next week. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE SOUTH African Revenue Service (Sars) building that is situated on the corner of Bean and Villiers streets and the old Woolworths building in the CBD that is owned by the Delta Property Fund will go on auction on July 20.

The doors to the Sars building were closed due to industrial action earlier this week, where National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and Public Servants Association (PSA) members downed tools due to a dispute over salary increases.

The Sars building, which was formerly the property of Trifecta Holdings (Pty) Ltd directors, Christo Scholtz and the former ANC chairperson John Block, is believed to have a reserve price of R15 million.

Block and Scholtz were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after they were found guilty of corruption and money laundering over multimillion-rand lease agreements that were concluded by Trifecta for government leases.

They started serving their sentences in 2018.

The CEO of the Delta Property Group, Siyabonga Mbanjwa, said the company was in the process of disposing of non-core properties across the country, including the Sars building in Kimberley that was acquired in 2013.

“Delta Properties does not have any relationship with Trifecta Holdings or the individuals involved with the company. The purchase of the property/ies at the time were done at arms’ length.”

He added that Delta was one of the largest landlords that provided leases to government departments.

“We have a number of other leases with state-owned enterprises, municipalities, provincial government departments and national government departments. We negotiate and bid for new leases all the time.

“Although there are exceptions, buildings are generally acquired with leases in place, which means the new owner takes over the remainder of the lease term on transfer of the building. This will likely also be the case on the assets that we are disposing of.”

Mbanjwa added that the Woolworths building in Kimberley was acquired at the time of Delta’s listing in 2012 from Beaux Lane (SA) Property.

Meanwhile, PSA provincial manager Steve Ledibane said union members had embarked on an indefinite strike, until their demands were met.

“The union is demanding a six percent across the board increase, whereas the employer only had a 1.39 percent increase offer on the table.

“This offer is below inflation and it is an insult to workers. Negotiations started in early February. Members have closed border posts in the Province where no one is being allowed in or out.

“We condemn instructions from the employer that employees work from home as this defeats the purpose of the strike.”

He indicated that they had not been consulted regarding the sale of the Sars building or whether staff needed to relocate.

“The Kimberley office provides integral services to taxpayers in all five districts of the Province. Employees cannot be expected to work from home in the event that the offices are closed.”

Nehawu provincial chairperson Jaques Cupido was also not aware that the Sars building would go on auction.

In response to a media enquiry, Sars stated that the lease agreement would not be terminated at the Sars building in Kimberley.

“Sars is not vacating the building. The sale of the property is covered in the lease agreement and is subject to Sars giving consent.”

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