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The curious case of Mmusi Maimane’s R4m house

2019-09-16 01:15

DA leader declares R4m residence as his own, even though deeds office records contradict this

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has listed a Cape Town home valued at nearly R4 million in a parliamentary register, despite the fact that the home has never belonged to him.

After being confronted about the contradiction by City Press’ sister publication, Rapport, the leader of the official opposition did an about-turn and said he actually rents the home from a friend.

Neither he nor the friend would divulge what the rent amounted to.

According to deeds office records, the house – situated in Claremont, which is about 13km from Parliament – is owned by a shelf company that has Durban businessman Wessel Jacobs as its sole director and shareholder.

Maimane’s wife, Natalie, and their two children appear to live in the residence, instead of in one of the three parliamentary housing complexes that are allocated to MPs.

Rapport came across dozens of inconsistencies during its investigation into the ownership of the home.

These include the following findings:

. Maimane declared the house in Claremont, as well as a house in Weltevredenpark in Roodepoort, Gauteng.

According to deeds office records, his only fixed residence is the house in Roodepoort.

Maimane did not respond to written questions about why he declared the Claremont home.

. The actual owner of the house is the shelf company, K2016495571. Jacobs confirmed last week that he was the sole director and shareholder of the company.

The company bought the house for R3.85 million in September 2017. A bond of R2.55 million was registered over the property in 2018. Jacobs said that the remainder was paid out of his own pocket.

Jacobs maintains that the full purchase price was paid by him.

Despite Maimane’s declaration before Parliament, he said last week that the house in Claremont did not belong to him but was leased at a “market-related” rate.

According to an estate agent, rental rates in this part of Cape Town run at between R15 000 and R20 000 a month.

Jacobs maintained that Maimane paid rent, but when asked for the lease agreement, he said that the information was confidential, notwithstanding the fact that he supported “transparent, fact-based and reasonable journalism”.

MPs are usually not required to disclose leased homes on their declarations of members’ interests, as long as the rent was market related.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen explained that MPs are usually not required to disclose leased homes on their declarations of members’ interests, as long as the rent was market related.

This, said DA sources, could explain why Maimane listed W. Jacobs on his declaration under the heading, Benefits.

Maimane did not respond to questions about what this benefit constituted.

The relationship between Jacobs and Maimane appears to extend beyond that of lessor and lessee. According to both, they have been friends for years.

Jacobs is the owner of Jacobs Capital, a private investment company in Durban, and is a trustee of Maimane’s family trust, Kgalaletso Kgosi Trust.

It is understood that there has been discomfort over Maimane’s declarations within the DA caucus for some time.

“He did not listen to us. What happens now must happen,” said a caucus member last week, in response to queries about the home.

MP Glynnis Breytenbach is chairperson of the DA’s federal legal commission, which conducts disciplinary investigations and hearings.

She is understood to have been asked to look into the deal last year.

It is understood that there has been discomfort over Maimane’s declarations within the DA caucus for some time.

According to a well-placed source, she found no indication that a crime had been committed.

However, the findings of this investigation were not made known, and were only shared with Maimane.

These revelations are likely to pile more pressure on Maimane, who has had his back to the wall since the DA’s poor results in the May general elections, showing a significant decline in support for the party.

Since then, there has been growing mobilisation for his removal as leader of the DA even before the scheduled federal congress takes place in 2021.

Some within the DA say that the party needs to contest the 2021 local government elections under a new leader, who will be able to turn its fortunes around.

But Maimane and his backers have stood firm, saying the plot to unseat him comes from a small, disgruntled faction.

He has insisted that he will lead the DA into the 2021 elections and seek another term as leader.


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October 13 2019