Sunny Gayadin challenges sale of land to Liberty
12 Feb 2013
WITHIN months of losing a nine-year battle over the sale of prime beachfront land to Durban film-maker Anant Singh, local businessman Sunny Gayadin is back in court.
This time Gayadin, with businessman Prakash Maistry and Maistry’s Epilite CC, is challenging Msunduzi’s sale of land adjacent to the Liberty Midlands Mall to Liberty Group Properties.
The businessmen yesterday asked the high court to review and set aside the sale of the land, which is earmarked for the multimillion-rand expansion of the mall.
Judgment was reserved by Judge Daya Pillay, who said she would make a ruling before the end of the month.
Gayadin and Maistry, who were represented by advocate Nirmal Singh SC, allege that the price of R7,5 million for which Msunduzi sold the land to the Liberty group was “well below market value”, and said they were prepared to pay double that amount.
Similar claims were made by Gayadin and Giant Concerts CC in the case in which he fought for the right to develop the former Natal Command site in Durban, which was sold to Singh’s Rinaldo Investments by the eThekwini Municipality.
The matter ended last November when the Constitutional Court ruled that Gayadin and Giant Concerts CC did not have legal standing to challenge the sale.
In court papers filed in the Pietermaritzburg case yesterday, it was alleged by the Liberty group that none of Gayadin, Maistry or Maistry’s Epilite CC, who lodged the application, is involved in any way in the property development industry.
Advocate Peter Olsen SC, who appeared for Liberty with advocate Hoosen Gani, suggested to Judge Pillay that “pure commercial self- interest” was behind Gayadin’s challenge.
He argued that the long delay before Gayadin and Maistry had lodged the review application, despite knowing about the sale agreement from 2009, had caused Liberty extreme prejudice and said it should not be entertained.
Alistair Dickson SC, for Msunduzi, said Gayadin seemed to think that he was entitled to bid for the land merely because he was “prepared to pay double”.
There was no tender or bidding process involved as the land was sold by private treaty.
Msunduzi was entitled to do this in terms of its land disposal policy, which entitles it to sell land by private treaty to an adjacent business owner for expansion purposes.
Dickson said Gayadin and Maistry did not own adjoining property and did not qualify.
In an affidavit before court, Graham Kusano, divisional director of property development for the Liberty group, said Gayadin and Maistry had done little to prevent the sale from proceeding, apart from filing an objection.
He said Gayadin appeared to have a “history of objections to municipal transactions which involve property developments”.
Liberty believed that Gayadin’s objections were “not genuine but are rather contrived efforts to extract compensation to which he [Gayadin] is not entitled”.
Kusano said investigations by Liberty revealed that Gayadin’s principal business had been the supply of gaming equipment and the running of casinos.
His businesses had closed down with the regularisation of the gaming industry.
LIBERTY Group Properties spent more than R18 million preparing its plans to expand the mall before reaching the sale agreement with Msunduzi, according to court papers.
This included the cost of evicting tenants from the Sanctuary Road housing scheme at a total cost of R3 736 063.
Liberty’s Graham Kusano said the group’s total investment in the mall development to date was about R550 million. More than 700 000 people visit the mall per month, and an average of R90 million per month is spent there.
He said the benefits of the planned expansion to the province and Pietermaritzburg were considerable.
These included the creation of 2 000 temporary jobs during the anticipated two-year construction phase and about 124 permanent jobs.