The North Gauteng High Court on Monday sentenced the City of Tshwane’s top official to 30 days in jail on a charge of contempt of court.
City manager Dr Moeketsi Mosola’s sentence was however suspended for six months on condition that his administration complies with an order the court gave on August 21, 2017.
If the city still fails to abide by the court order within 30 days, as it has since August last year, the applicants in the matter, property developer Aquavista Investments may ask the court to proceed with Mosola’s arrest.
The cash-strapped City was also ordered to pay Aquavista’s legal costs on a punitive scale.
The issue relates to the double debiting of property rates on a township development. The City of Tshwane charged the developer rates on the original property as well as on every subdivided plot, while they were still in the township register, before being transferred to new owners.
The City further levied taxes on the parks in the development, contrary to a court order made in 2008. According to the developer the City billed it R925 000, instead of about R200 000.
In terms of the August 2017 order the City was supposed close the rates accounts of the individual properties, recalculate the rates accounts of the original properties, Erven 24 and 26 of Kungwini Country Estate and charge the developer accordingly.
In a supporting affidavit the developer sets out how it over and over reminded the officials of the city and even mayor Solly Msimanga of the deadline to comply with the court order and the risk if they don’t.
The city however failed to comply and the developer approached the court for an order of contempt of court, which it has now obtained.
The City of Tshwane told Moneyweb that, “although there was a Contempt of Court judgment granted, that judgment was suspended for six months to enable the Office of the Chief Financial Officer to attend to the issues raised in the August 2017 judgment.”
It said it is a very technical matter, and does require some time to finalise the calculations. “It is a very isolated matter, and the City’s internal processes are being tightened to ensure that similar events do not recur in the future.”