Questions over Prasa housing contract

A former ANC provincial treasurer and his wife are the directors of a company that has scored a R207 million housing development contract near Goodwood station, despite it being dogged by a liquidation application and questions over who exactly stands to benefit.

The development will see 1080 rental units and retail space, built on Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) land.

The plan is for several five-storey buildings with bachelor, one- and two-bedroom units. This is part of Prasa’s national station precinct development programme, managed by its subsidiary, Intersite.

According to Intersite, the tender has been awarded to Daku Calana Investment (DCI) Holdings Pty Ltd and will comprise social housing units funded through the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA).

However, on the SHRA website, no mention is made of DCI Holdings Pty Ltd. Instead it refers to DCI Community Housing Services, listed there as a Section 21 company (not for profit), and described as “conditionally accredited”.

Furthermore, DCI Community Housing Services is not registered as a non-profit company (NPC) with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

Intersite has also awarded tenders to DCI Holdings Pty Ltd to develop Retreat and Heideveld stations.

The City of Cape Town said the planning application for the Goodwood project had been submitted in January and advertised for public comment in May. It included an application to sub-divide the Prasa land and rezone it from transport to residential use.

Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning Johan van der Merwe said “a number of objections and a petition” had been submitted to the City. These would be considered by the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT), possibly at its next meeting in February.

“The application proposal is in compliance with the spatial planning policies for the area. However, the desirability of the application still needs to be assessed and considered by the MPT,” he said.

Intersite’s acting senior manager for property investments, Thami Hlongwane, said the public participation process, which ended in June, had been “successful”.

“The demand for housing in the area exceeds supply. The public supports the initiative,” he said.

Puzzlingly, Fezile Calana told Northern News he was “no longer involved” in DCI Holdings, despite both his LinkedIn account and describing him as its chairman. The CIPC also lists him as a director of the company.

The other director is CEO Xoliswa Daku, who holds a similar title at the Daku Group of Companies, also operating in the construction field. She is also married to Mr Calana, although he neglected to mention that during our interview with him.

DCI Holdings has been involved in the refurbishment of Mthatha Hospital in the Eastern Cape, and a construction project at the Saldanha port on the West Coast.

Mr Calana said the development at Goodwood station would be undertaken by DCI Community Housing Services, which he described as an non-profit organisation (NPO).

A request for proposals had been issued by Intersite in 2010, he said. Various companies had shown an interest and Prasa had gone through a selection process, shortlisting DCI for Retreat, Goodwood and Heideveld.

A commitment was signed with Prasa in 2011, and, said Mr Calana, he had had to pay guarantees to Prasa. Asked how much, he said: “That is none of your business.”

Although Mr Calana appeared eager to separate the two companies, on the DCI Holdings website, under the heading “Social Housing”, it states DCI CHS was established in 2012 “to develop quality, affordable residential property for low-medium income household”.

However, this means DCI CHS was set up the year after the commitment with Prasa was signed.

Mr Calana wanted to know why Northern News was interested in the story and asking questions “like I’m at a police station”. “What did I do to you? Fokol,” he said, visibly agitated.

He initially declined to answer emailed questions, telling Northern News he would consult his lawyer. He later agreed to an interview where he said that DCI was awarded the bid because of its “out of the box thinking”.

He said there had been no housing development in Ruyterwacht (which borders Goodwood across the railway line) “with the dawn of democracy”.

He hoped the development would start in May next year.

Asked about the application going to the MPT, he said: “It is much more concerns, not objections. People had more questions about crime. At the time, people didn’t understand the concept of social housing.”

He said there had been concerns about who would occupy the units, and that the development would be rented “to foreigners”. But he stressed that tenants would come from the housing waiting list, and would be “vetted and accredited”.

Intersite said no money had been paid to DCI upfront; instead the project was being undertaken “at the developer’s risk”. When asked how DCI would make money from the deal, Mr Calana said: “It’s not about the business of making money.

“There is a lease agreement which stipulates what Intersite will be paid,” he said.

Nathan Adriaanse, spokesman for the provincial Department of Human Settlements, said that as a conditionally accredited social housing institution (SHI), DCI Community Housing Services could apply for a restructuring capital grant (RCG) from the SHRA, as well as the institutional subsidy from the province and the City of Cape Town, although it had yet to do so. It had, however, received “capacitation grants” from SHRA which enable support for “planning and packaging”.

The DCI Holdings Facebook page appears to have been last updated in April 2015, when a post from them read: “Wish we can get paid.”

There is also a post on the site from a man identified as Raymond Dalasile who is reacting to a company anniversary celebration.

He writes: “I’m wondering how many people you robbed of their money in that period of ten years, you don’t pay your staff neither your subcontractors, bunch of crooks. I wonder how do you even get the projects that you work on as you don’t complete projects you get, your time will come.”

Northern News questioned Mr Calana about the company’s financial position, as there had been an application from a creditor, GH Family Holdings Pty Ltd, posted on the Western Cape High Court roll for February 2016 to have DCI Holdings liquidated. But again Mr Calana said he “does not want to link the two”, referring to his earlier claim that he was no longer involved in DCI Holdings, and that the Goodwood project was being done under the auspices of DCI Community Housing Services.

“If you know business, there are many companies going through this, but they continue to do business… while they sort out their issues,” he said.

Mr Calana accused Northern News of “negativity”, saying: “Tell your handler to come to me” and “You’re under a mandate”.

We sent emails for Xoliswa Daku to the Daku Group’s address posted online, but these were not answered. Calls to their office in Sandton, Johannesburg, were not answered either. Calls to Ms Daku’s cellphone were not answered. Northern News left a voice message and sent an SMS, but Ms Daku did not respond.