Pilgrims Rest: One year after court order department still fails to act

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

It has now been one year since the North Gauteng High Court interdicted the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport from evicting Pilgrim’s Rest business owners from their business premises, and granted the applicants the right to file a review of the flawed 2011/12 tender process.

Sadly, to date, the department has not fully complied with the court order and has failed to provide all the necessary documentation to the North Gauteng High court, to enable the continuation of the review application. The DA suspects that many of these documents required for the review process is physically not available, justifying Justice J Makgoba’s comments of a deeply flawed bidding and adjudication process.

The department’s non-compliance has had a devastating effect on Pilgrim’s Rest and the local economy. Over the past year a number of businesses have closed their doors, and as the uncertainty of business prospects continues, desperately needed jobs are lost while tourism numbers continue to decline.

With none of the existing businesses receiving any further correspondence on the leases of the buildings they occupy and no mention of any future plans for this historic town, the ultimate demise of Pilgrim’s Rest is imminent.

The department’s inaction further affirms the DA’s position that under the leadership of its HOD, Mr Kgopane Mohlasedi, the entire tender process was rigged and manipulated to serve the interest of the politically well-connected.

To this end, the DA will write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee for Public Works, Roads and Transport and Community Safety Security and Liaison Mr JL Mahlangu, requesting him to summon MEC Mahlangu and HOD Mohlasedi to give account on their failure to comply to the high court order, and to present the department’s future plans for a sustainable Pilgrim’s Rest.