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Thursday 17 January 2019
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Middleman swings property for SSC in a day

Tierspoorpic2 Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 1.49.26 PM mungunda IMG_1136The Social Security Commission(SSC) is embroiled in a questionable property transaction after it spent N$13 million on a 949 square meter residential property under a shroud of secrecy in December.
The Patriot has learned that the state welfare organization acquired the property from a middleman who bought it for N$4 million on the same day. The Commission wants to build its headquarters on the newly-acquired land.
The Commission bought the property from Ambrosius Tierspoor, who currently works as the Head of Corporate Communication at National Road Safety Council and also serves as a MVA Fund Board of Director.
The said property, situated less than 100 metres from the Electoral Commission of Namibia, effectively scored Tierspoor N$9 million profit in one day. Sources point to the fact that Tierspoor allegedly entered into talks with the SSC while he did not own the property as what makes the transaction questionable.
Legally, it is not wrong to buy a property and sell it above market value.
Official records seen by The Patriot indicate that Tierspoor sold Erf 1372 which he bought for N$4 million to Social Security Commission for N$13 million, effectively exposing how reckless welfare money belonging to the Namibian workers, is handled by its custodians. Erf 1372 is a portion of 1361.
As recent as last year, N$11 million of workers’ money was mysteriously diverted purportedly for the benefit of the so called ‘struggle kids’.
On top of that, the Commission is yet to recover N$30 million lost in a botched investment deal with Avid Investments in 2005. The criminal proceedings in the Avid case are still ongoing.
It is understood that some executives at the SSC opposed the questionable transaction and attempted to stop it from materializing but it went through nonetheless. Sources at the SSC questioned whether the Commission carried out an independent valuation on the property and also why the accepted procurement policy guidelines were not followed. These include the public notification via advertising to invite prospective interested parties.
Tierspoor (39) bought the property from Jan Hendrick Claasen (52) on 7 December 2016 for N$4 million and sold it for more than triple the amount to SSC on the same day.
Both transactions were registered with the Deeds Office on 22 February 2017. Interestingly, Claasen and his family continue to reside in the house despite SSC having bought the property in December.
It is not known when the Commission will take full ownership of the property.
A visit to the property yesterday morning to ascertain whether the Claasen’s still lives at the now SSC-owned property was conducted by this publication. SSC’s move also casts serious doubt on government’s stated commitment to control housing prices from being inflated, a situation which is blamed for making housing unaffordable because the home seekers are captive buyers. Tierspoor refused to respond to questions from this publication. “Respectfully my chief I cannot comment,” he said in a text message sent to this reporter.
The Patriot understands that SSC want to build their headquarters on the recently-acquired property which is situated in the same vicinity as the Electoral Commission of Namibia. Ironically the new location for the SSC’s head office is about five times smaller than the land it initially intended to build its office complex in the CBD.
The deal took place just five months after the SSC’s board of directors decided to sell its land measuring 4 750 square meters situated in the Windhoek central business district. It is not clear why the Commission’s board decided to sell the said land which it acquired for N$47 million in 2013 with the aim of building its head office on the said property.
Criticism galore
The Commission, which is tasked to ensure social protection in Namibia, has come under fire for the amount spent to buy the property.
Questions sent to the Commission’s chief executive officer Milka Mungunda has not yielded a response. These are the questions sent to Mungunda:
SSC always places its procurement needs on tender. Was this done during the procurement of the property from Mr. Tierspoor?
What does SSC want to do with the newly-acquired property?
Is the space of the property sufficient for the operations you wish to conduct on the property?
Was there a board resolution taken to purchase the property for the given price?
Were any valuations done to determine whether the property is indeed worth N$13 million?
We are asking this because we have established that Mr. Tierspoor bought the property for N$4 million in December 2016 and then sold it to SSC for N$13 million. Was the SSC aware of this earlier transaction when it bought the property?
Rezoning process
Since the house is situated in a residential zone, The Patriot has established that the process to rezone the erf is underway.
A notice displayed on the front gate of the property indicates that Ritta Khiba Consultants intends to “apply to the Municipal Council of Windhoek on behalf of the owner for the rezoning of ERF RE/1372 Windhoek from residential to office with a bulk of 0.75 or 0.4 and consent to utilize the erf for office space while the rezoning is being processed and a 50% residential bulk.”
“Erf RE/1372 Number 155 Hosea Kutako Drive Windhoek is zoned ‘Residential’ and is approximately +/-947m2 in extent,” reads the notice.
It also indicates that those who object the proposed use of the land may lodge such objection together with the grounds thereof, with the Municipality.
 
The middlemen
Middlemen have become a core part of land deals in Namibia lately.
They operate as highly organised field of aggregators, brokers, touts, musclemen and others permeating the land economy.
In this case the law does not ban property owners from inflating the prices of their properties because of the free market system in the country.
In fact Tierspoor, a known sympathizer and follower of the country’s ruling party, is not the only ruling party member to enter into a one-day-sale transaction in recent years.
In June 2015, the Walvis Bay Municipality sold a prime piece of land, measuring 1784 square metres, to the spokesperson of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) for N$1.5 million Neville Itope, which he then sold that very same day to a Windhoek-based businessman for N$4.1 million.
Documentary evidence of land transactions at Walvis Bay Municipality at the time indicated that Itope bought and sold the land on 26 June 2015.
The SPYL leader was able to pocket N$2.6 million from the transaction, money which might very well have boosted the income of the municipality if the land was sold at the price Andre was able to resell it for at the time.
2015 was also the year that Cabinet Cabinet released 89 resolutions related to serviced land, rent control and price controls with regard to land sales.
Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa has repeatedly warned town councils and public institutions against entering into non-beneficial public-private partnerships. She also said she would not approve any questionable land deals.
 
SSC’s past property woes
The Namibian reported in June last year that the Commission’s Board at the time decided to sell land initially meant for its new headquarters in the city centre because it is inaccessible, barely three years after paying N$47 million for the property.
The size of the property which was equivalent to half-a-football field, according to the report, is on Independence Avenue between Fidel Castro Street and Sam Nujoma Drive on a plot previously known as OK Parking, opposite the (former) Kalahari Sands Hotel.
It is sandwiched by the new First National Bank head office and the Hilton Hotel, with the Supreme Court across the street.
“Besides the initial N$47 million the SSC paid for the land, it also spent another N$40 million on clearing the site and other related costs, revealed the report.



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