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Thu Jul 24 17:21:16 SAST 2014

King forks out R27m on 'modest' house

SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER | 11 March, 2012 00:10

Image by: MAX ROSSI / REUTERS

GHANA'S King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has secretly bought a R27-million mansion in Johannesburg to use during his private medical check-ups at an exclusive hospital in Gauteng.

The king's office in Ghana declined this week to disclose the monarch's ailment.

Osei Tutu II, 62, whose region has one of the largest reserves of gold in Ghana, is reportedly the most influential traditional figure of authority in the West African country.

Manhyia palace, the king's official residence in Kumasi, the capital of his gold-rich kingdom, is notorious for guarding his private and often extravagant lifestyle closely.

This week the Sunday Times established that Osei Tutu II's latest purchase - a 2000m² luxury mansion in Sandhurst, north of Johannesburg - will boast a team of security guards and domestic staff during his absence. The property borders the homes of several millionaires and billionaires.

According to the deeds office, Osei Tutu II secured a R27-million bond for the mansion from Standard Bank Jersey Limited, a subsidiary of the Standard Bank Group, on the Channel Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The transfer of the property on Coronation Road was finalised in January.

Royal spokesman Owusu Boateng said this week there was nothing extraordinary about the king buying a "basic house" in South Africa.

"He comes to South Africa for routine medicals twice a year and he normally stays with friends, that is why he decided to get a house," Boateng said.

"The king did not want a house which would be high maintenance, with a big garden, he just wanted a basic house ... [and] it has four bedrooms and workers' quarters. It is just a normal house," Boateng said.

While the average price for a home on the street is about R12-million, the highest price paid was R46-million for a 2278m² property in November 2010.

Boateng requested that the Sunday Times "keep this private", saying: "I am going to have to speak to the king about this issue."

Two years ago, Osei Tutu II, who is rarely addressed directly by any member of the public, summoned an emergency meeting with his elders over a story broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation that he had splashed out £3-million on a six- bedroom mansion in the UK.

The more than 809-hectare estate, according to the BBC, featured stables, tennis courts, and a cinema room.

Britain's Sunday Times reported the neo-colonial property in Oxfordshire, known as Kingwood Place, also boasted cream marble floors.

But at the time, Osei Tutu II's palace denied the purchase.

His advisor stated: "We are in the process of holding a meeting to investigate the truthfulness or otherwise of that story because I don't believe it. Speaking for myself, and knowing the king like I do, I can't believe it unless we do checks on it".

This week Boateng went to great lengths to describe Osei Tutu II's Sandhurst mansion as a modest and "basic house".

He also emphasised that a bond had been used to acquire the property.

"It is a loan facility that he has taken, which he will pay for the next five or ten years," he said. "Anybody can apply for a loan, the king has done the same."

Pressed for details, Boateng said: "It's more a house to use as his private residence."

Little is known about Osei Tutu II's family, which includes his wife, Lady Julia, and six children.

Osei Tutu II, whose approval is needed for many political appointments in Ghana, led a modest life in London where he worked as a personnel administrator for the Brent council before ascending to the throne in 1999.

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Thu Jul 24 17:21:16 SAST 2014 ::