South Africa's most opulent and controversial mansion was sold today at an auction in Sandton for R65 million. The opulent home in the exclusive
Sandhurst Estate, Johannesburg, belonged to Africa's first telecommunications mogul, billionaire Rwandan national Miko Rwayitare, who
passed away last year in Belgium.
The multi-columned sandstone palace, which was modelled on Pretoria's Union Buildings with terraced gardens and gatehouses to match, was controversially
sold for just R400,000 at a sale in execution conducted by the Sheriff of the Court in August last year to the mansions architect Greg Pietersen,
after he purchased the property to recover his unpaid professional fees.
Pietersen's acquisition however included the company that owned the mansion, Propro Investments, which included Investec Bank's R67million outstanding
finance. Since the bond was never paid, the no reserve sale in execution was a culmination of the bank's legal foreclosure.
"The sale arose because no one was paying the bond." said Investec attorney Tony Sanchez.
The no reserve auction held at the Hilton Hotel, Sandton attracted local and international bidders. According to Alliance Group Chief Executive Rael
Levitt, whose company marketed the property on behalf of Investec Bank, there was considerable interest from wealthy buyers. "Despite the palpable
downturn in the residential property market, this is an iconic property and for many of our buyers they realised that a no-reserve sale of arguably
South Africa's highest value house, was a once in a lifetime opportunity".
According to Levitt, the sale was almost cancelled on Tuesday after Rwayitare's Estate brought an application to liquidate the mansion's holding
company. Some of the issues in dispute which raged in the Johannesburg High Court, arose between Petersen and Rwayitare's widow, Consolatta Rwayitare
who claimed that half of the Propro shares were donated to her before her 2004 marriage to Miko and therefore shouldn't have been sold. "The
Liquidation application was however dismissed with costs against the applicants and we went ahead with the sale in execution auction", says
According to the auctioneers, the entire mansion is built of sandstone, with columns "all over the place". Other features included a multi-million home
automation system, a hairdressing salon, seven en suite bedrooms, tennis court, triple volume reception areas, koi ponds, saunas, steam rooms, games
areas, movie theatre and a perfectly terraced garden overlooking the Sandton skyline. Levitt says that since Mrs Rwaitare moved out of the mansion the
estate has been looking "a little tired and neglected ". Hopefully the sale today is the end of a difficult era for the country's most high profile