eThekwini Municipality Approaches Courts to Restitute Assets

The Municipality of eThekwini is seeking the return of property seized from its offices.

On August 25, employees of the High Court Sheriff descended on the offices of his electrical unit and began seizing items.

READ ALSO | Sheriff seizes ‘movable property’ worth R43m belonging to eThekwini

The seizure was part of an attachment order given to Daily Double (as Pholobas Projects) to remove R30 million of assets belonging to the municipality.

A report recently presented to the executive committee of eThekwini indicates that 16 vehicles, 18 telephones, three computers and a photocopier were taken from the municipality.

Following the seizure, the city filed papers with the Bloemfontein Supreme Court of Appeal seeking the return of the assets and overturning the decision of the Durban High Court which awarded Pholobas Projects £30 million rand. “We think a different court will rule differently,” said Mxolisi Kaunda, mayor of eThekwini municipality.

After filing a petition with the Court of Appeal, the municipality then sent a letter to the lawyers of Pholobas Projects to return the seized property.

On September 1, their lawyers responded with a letter saying they would return the assets if the municipality paid them R30 million. The municipality responded by refusing to accept their terms.

“The attorney was instructed to prepare application materials to seek the unconditional release of seized municipal property as the matter was still subject to leave to appeal,” the Exco report said.

READ ALSO | Sheriff seizes eThekwini assets over multi-million rand payment

According to court documents, in 2012 Pholobas Projects was ordered to repay more than R100,000 to eThekwini, following an audit report that revealed irregularities in a contract awarded to them.

Following this, the city’s Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) recommended that the Pholobas projects be removed from the municipality’s service provider database and that all of their contracts be suspended.

In 2017, Pholobas Projects opened a case against the city, claiming they had been wrongfully blacklisted.
In 2018, lawyers for the municipality offered Pholobas Projects a settlement of R30 million, which they accepted.

The municipality later retracted the offer, arguing that their lawyers were not acting on their instructions. However, their version of events was rejected by the court.

The witness could not know the date when the case will be brought before the SCA.

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