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Mossel Bay Halts Controversial Beachfront Land Sale Amidst Public Outcry

Published February 29, 2024
3 months ago

In a significant reversal shaped by intense public pressure, the sale of a prime piece of council-owned beachfront land in Dana Bay, Mossel Bay, has been shelved. The Mossel Bay Municipality elected to abort the transaction following a wave of community backlash and oppositional discord, particularly from within the DA-led municipal council itself.

Initially offered to a private buyer for R980 000—a figure markedly below the R2-R3 million valuation for neighboring properties—this real estate debacle has raised important issues regarding the transparency of public land sales. It was during the public participation stage that locals voiced objections to the planned sale, which notably included a suggestion from the prospective buyer to utilize the land for altruistic ends. The buyer intended to position a mobile condo on-site, functioning as a security haven for himself and his wife, whilst providing amenities for local fishermen.

Mayor Dirk Kotzé of Mossel Bay has articulated his DA caucus's stance against endorsing the contentious agenda item, stressing the importance of honoring the community's sentiment against the sale. Furthermore, the fact that the would-be buyer is related to a DA councillor, who responsibly recused themselves during relevant deliberations, has added a layer of complexity and ethical scrutiny to the proceedings.

FA councillor Faizell Porter termed this turnaround a triumph for the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and other previously marginalized entities. He criticized inconsistent practices regarding land acquisition, alleging a systematic favoritism within council operations that privileges the historically advantaged, particularly those connected to the ruling DA.

Echoing similar apprehensions, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) has indicated concerns over the apparent circumvention of standard tender processes in the dispensing of municipal assets, casting doubt over the transparency of the DA's handling of council affairs.

Jaco Londt, a constituency head for the DA, pointed out that homeowner consent is requisite for such sales; a consensus conspicuously lacking during the public consultation phase. With the community's dissent clear, the recommendation has been put forth to outright reject the sale.

The beachfront land at Dana Bay stands as a testament to the power of community action and serves as a challenging case study for land transaction governance in the democratic South Africa. The Municipality's decision not to proceed with the sale reflects the commitment to public input and equitable process adherence, ensuring that the voices of Mossel Bay's residents are not just heard but acted upon.

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