Pilgrim’s Rest - safe for now

A interdict was granted yesterday to existing businessmen of Pilgrim's Rest to prevent the new tenants with tenders to take over their plots.

Judge Ephraim Makgoba of the High Court in Pretoria also said Dikeledi Mahlangu, Mpumalanga's MEC for public works, roads and transport, and 14 other business people may not directly or indirectly interfere with the current business owners, harass or intimidate them or put a tender into effect

The interdict is effective immediately, pending a review application of the tender process by the 13 applicants who currently occupy the premises.

Peter Steenkamp, ??the applicant's attorney, said the application could take a long time because they are waiting on the state for documentation regarding the tenders.

When they do, the applicants have 30 days to a review application for submission.

"For now the owners, their employees and the residents of Pilgrim's Rest are safe," Steenkamp said.

"Moreover, the aesthetic value of Pilgrim's Rest is protected."

Makgoba said the whole process of wanting to kick out  the current businesspeople of Pilgrim's Rest at the end of this month is improbable and won’t work.

There is evidence that the applicants business premises are legally occupied.

"The respondent has not acted in good faith.”

The tenders which was awarded to other businessmen were filled with controversy and a degree of unlawfulness. The awarding of the tenders was not fair, transparent and lacked competitiveness and cost effectiveness."

Makgoba said there are residents who have operated businesses in the area for over 40 years.

However, tenders to people outside the town was still granted.

He mentioned the  "Xhosa-sisters" as an example. According to court documents, the tender including The Old Print Shop and Mona's Cottage was granted to Tim-bhulu Construction and Projects.

The other "sister" Urizima 83 CC was awarded Pilgrims Place.

"Between the two sisters they received eight tenders. There is no evidence that the respondents to whom the tender has been granted, has the authority to manage businesses the way its current owners manages it," said Makgoba.

"None of the respondents made statements to clarify whether they have the resources or capabilities to manage a business enterprise.

In addition, liquor and fuel-licenses are  awarded to individuals. There is no evidence that respondents will have these licenses by August 1.

"It is in the public interest that the current owners of the businesses are permitted to review the tender processes.

David Nkambule, communications chief of Mpumalanga's department of public works, roads and transport, said they respected Makgoba's verdict.

They will only comment when the review process is completed.

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