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MBABANE - The value of Mona Flats in Mbabane, which is one of the tallest buildings in the country, is now subject to litigation.

Tisuka Properties (PTY) Limited, which owns the property has approached the High Court after the Valuation Court of the Municipal Council of Mbabane ruled that the value of the property was E83 693 000. Tisuka Properties (PTY) Limited contends that that the property is valued at E40 million. In its application, the company beseeched  the court  to  review and set aside the decision of presiding officer of the Valuation Court of placing the value of the improvements on Lot 260/1 at E83 693 000. The valuation of a building or property is the method of calculating its present marketable cost. It depends on the sort of building, its structure, durability, location, size, shape, the width of roads, frontage, types and quality of building materials used and the cost of these materials. Respondents in the matter are the presiding officer of the Valuation Court and the Municipal Council of Mbabane.   


In his founding affidavit, the applicant’s (Tisuka Properties (PTY) Limited) General Manager, Mandla Zwane brought it to the attention of the court that the company was the registered owner of Lot 260/1, a property situated in Mbabane, comprising of flats known as Mona. He narrated to the court that during the year 2021, on or about the month of August 2021, the applicant was informed by the Municipal Council of Mbabane, that it would be conducting a valuation exercise of all immovable properties within the city. He alleged that the municipal council informed them that, this was done in order to determine the value of each property and upon such exercise, a rate payable would be determined on annual basis. According to Zwane, the municipal council stated that it derived such powers from Section 10 of the Rating Act, which provides that all properties should be valuated every, after five years. He alleged that, the second respondent (Municipal Council of Mbabane) advised the applicant that Lot 260/1 had a land value of E2 727 000 and the improvement’s value was E82 693 000.


This, according to Zwane, was presented through a draft valuation roll. “The applicant was not satisfied with what appeared in the roll and appointed Springbok Property Valuations and Real Estate Consultants (PTY) Limited to appear before the presiding officer of the Valuation Court of the Municipal Council of Mbabane and officially object to the valuation.  The objection occurred in the month of September 2021,” submitted Zwane. He related to the court that, the instructed property  valuators appeared before the first respondent (presiding officer of the Valuation Court), and objected on the basis that valuator that was used by  Municipal Council of Mbabane, allegedly used a cost depreciated replacement method in coming to the conclusion it eventually came to. He submitted that the valuators who were engaged by the applicant objected and argued that the correct method was the income approach system, since Mona Flats housed people who paid rent.


“May I place it on record that Mona Flats comprises of 10 floors, which are a true reflection of the value presented by the valuators. I am advised that Bongani Zwane, who is the valuator of Springbok Property Valuation and Real Estate Consultant, together with Samkeliso Malindzisa who are both valuators and are registered with the body regulating valuators in the Kingdom of Eswatini, raised objection on behalf of the applicant,” he argued. Zwane went on to state that, he was further advised that during the course of the session, there was allegedly a concession on the part of the respondent, that there was an error in so far as the draft roll was concerned. He alleged that, upon making presentation, Springbok Property Valuators and Real Estate (PTY) Limited rated the flats at E40million.  

He submitted that the presiding officer of the Valuation Court, agreed to correct the figures from E82 693 000 to a figure that almost reflected the E40 million. Zwane further claimed that, he was informed that the presiding officer of the Valuation Court was in agreement with the applicant’s valuators and during the course of the meeting, conceded and appeared as one person, who was going to make the corrections. “On or about the month of October 2022, the Municipal Council of Mbabane issued a notice of findings of the Valuation Court and in the notice the Valuation Court maintained that the improvements amounting to E82 693 000. May I place it on record that the rationale behind the E82 693 000 was the cost depreciated replacement method, which I am advised was not the proper method to be used for such a property,” he argued. He contended that, having allegedly agreed to the valuation method by the applicant’s valuators, the presiding officer of the Valuation Court issued a ruling contrary to what was submitted and agreed upon.

He further placed it on record that, he was not aware of any valuator who physically came to the applicant’s premises for purposes of the valuation exercise. Zwane told the court that the valuators who were engaged by the applicant came to the premises and in fact, their offices were situated at Mbandzeni House, directly opposite Mona Flats. “The objection raised by the applicant’s valuators fell on deaf ears despite producing a well-reasoned basis for the E40 milllion.The decision of the presiding officer of the Valuation was not supported by any tangible evidence and does not have any legal basis, contended Zwane. It was further his submission that, in January 2023, the applicant, through Wandile Gama, who was the head of operations, approached the Municipal Council of Mbabane, seeking a record and written reasons for the decision taken by the presiding officer of the Valuation Court.  Zwane said, he was told that Gama was promised the documents, until he approached attorneys for assistance.  


He highlighted that on February 20,2023, through its lawyers, the applicant wrote a letter to the clerk of the Valuation Court, wherein the applicant was again, requesting the reasons for the decision. Zwane said there was no response to the letter. It was his contention that the presiding officer allegedly did not apply his mind to the facts submitted and/or placed before him. He argued that the valuation method that was used by the valuator that was engaged by the Municipal Council of Mbabane was not applicable to the applicant’s property. “Prior to the valuation, the Municipal Council of Mbabane valuated the same property at E27 360 000. The current valuation is almost three times the above mentioned figure. This also demonstrates that the presiding officer of the Valuation Court did not apply his mind to the facts and also the submissions made by the applicant. The matter is still pending in court. The applicant is represented by Banele Gamedze of Musa S Sibandze Attorneys.