Durban 'monstrosity' knocked down for a disappointing R11m

26 August 2020 - 16:31
A controversial, unfinished high-rise building in Durban sold for R11m on auction on Wednesday.
Image: belchonock / 123rf A controversial, unfinished high-rise building in Durban sold for R11m on auction on Wednesday.

The highest bid for the controversial high-rise apartment building in Durban’s Currie Road at a public auction on Wednesday was R11m.

Auctioneer Ian Wyles said there were only two bidders “in spite of lots of interest” in the sale. He said it was now up to the liquidator of developers Serengeti Rise Industries to decide if he would accept the offer, which is subject to the authority of the master's office.

He declined to say who the bidder was.

Last year, when Serengeti was initially placed in business rescue, a valuator estimated the partially completed nine-storey building to be worth between R50m and R65m.

Creditors have put in proven claims of about R117m.

Liquidator Kurt Knoop said the offer was subject to confirmation during the 14-day period and Wyles said increased offers would be considered during this period.

Wyles blamed the poor auction price on litigation — and subsequent publicity — by civic action group Save Our Berea (SOB) which, on Tuesday, attempted to secure an interdict in the Durban high court to stop the auction, pending a court application later this year in which it wants a demolition order, citing “fraud and corruption” in the rezoning and plan approval process.

While SOB failed to get the interdict, it was agreed that Wyles would warn potential bidders about the impending litigation so there would be no “innocent purchasers”.

“This made everyone very cautious,” Wyles said. “It put buyers off.”

Wealthy Durban businessman Jakes Pandor applied to intervene in the SOB  application, saying the sale of the property was imperative to realise any benefit and to finalise the winding up of the developers, Serengeti Rise Industries, which was placed in liquidation last year.

The eThekwini Municipality also filed an affidavit.

Chief legal adviser Silindile Blose, said in its essence, the new litigation dealt with the same issues as was determined by the Supreme Court of Appeal, which overturned a demolition order granted in the Durban high court in favour of neighbours who complained that the building was a “monstrosity”.

An appeal to the Constitutional Court was refused without hearing argument.

Blose said the relief  SOB  was now seeking “has no hope of ever being granted” because it involved reviewing and setting aside rezoning and plan approval decisions made 10 years ago and the application was “way out of time”.