Tokyo puts board to sword
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has dissolved the Estate Agency Affairs Board with immediate effect and asked the Special Investigating Unit to step in amid allegations of embezzlement and mismanagement.
''Who's who in the zoo? That's what I want to find out,'' Sexwale said in Sandton yesterday after announcing that the estate agency board will be placed under administration.
Part of the investigation will be into the state of the industry's Fidelity Fund, a pool to which all estate agents and agencies contribute. It is estimated to be worth billions.
The fund is supposed to safeguard consumers against the misappropriation of trust monies by estate agents.
Sexwale said he is ''very interested'' to find out what is going on inside the fund.
Nico du Plessis, chairman of the RNS Group, said: ''We want to know what's happening to the interest earned by the fund and whether there is anything left in there.''
The amounts paid by estate agents since the late 1970s should by now have accumulated to "billions", said Du Plessis.
The fund, he said, does not belong to the Estate Agency Affairs Board and should be utilised for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
Du Plessis welcomed the intervention by the minister, saying the board had become an "embarrassment".
Oversight of the board was shifted in May from the Department of Trade and Industry to human settlements.
Since then, former chairman Ina Wilken has resigned to pursue other interests.
The case against prominent businesswoman Wendy Machanik, the axing of Estate Agency Affairs Board CEO Nomonde Mapetla, with a golden handshake of R3-million, and recent rumours of mismanagement prompted Sexwale to intervene.
He wanted a meeting with the board yesterday, but when only three of the 15 members were on hand to meet him, he dissolved the board.
''I didn't want to meet with a sinking ship,'' said Sexwale.
''We must bring stability and certainty; the sector must be clean,'' he said.
From a peak of more than 90000 estate agents during the property boom five years ago, less than 30000 are operating at present.
NOT HOT PROPERTY
January 2011: Wendy Machanik is interdicted from trading after allegations of fraud involving more than R25-million in trust funds.
February 2011: Nomonde Mapetla is suspended as CEO of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and her contract is later terminated. She receives a severance package of R3-million.
August 2011: A Deloitte auditing report gives details of Mapetla's alleged misconduct.
August 2011: Thami Bolani is suspended as chairman and then resigns.
February 2011 to July 2012: The estate board has three acting CEOs.
July 2012: Ina Wilken, chairman of the estate board, resigns.