Despite numerous meetings and emails between members of the Property Committee of the Pretoria Attorneys Association (PAA) and officials of the City of Tshwane, the backlog at the Rates Clearance Department remains stubbornly high and it is clear that no significant progress has been made in eliminating the backlog. This is confirmed by the official Statistics of the City as well as by the anecdotal evidence of extremely frustrated and angry Conveyancers.
The financial consequences for Buyers, Sellers and Estate Agents are enormous and the damaging impact on Law Firms and their support staff has been significant.
DELAY IN MEMO REQUESTS
The Property Committee of the PAA received the first Statistics from Tshwane as at 9 July 2020.
Therefore, there were 3,503 Memo Requests outstanding for 9 days or more. This was attributed to the COVID-19 Lock down and the fact that the electronic system (that was still in Pilot Phase at start of Lockdown) had to be implemented immediately.
At a meeting attended by the PAA Property Committee and representatives of the City of Tshwane on the 10″ of July 2020, the City undertook that the D-day for the elimination of the back-log would be Friday the 7th of August 2020 On the 13″ of August, there were a Total of 4,627 Memos outstanding, of which 3,576 Memos Outstanding relate to applications from July and earlier (i.e. older than 10 calendar days).
At a meeting attended by the PAA Property Committee and representatives of the City of Tshwane on the 19″ of August 2020, the City unequivocally undertook to eliminate the Backlog and the deadlines were confirmed by the City as follows:
- 210 from May — will be resolved by Tuesday the 25th of August 2020;
- 695 from June will be resolved by Friday the 4th of September 2020;
- 1558 from July — will be resolved by Friday the 11th of September 2020;
The Property Committee has continued to receive Statistics from the City of Tshwane and these have been circulated to members of the PAA from time to time.
The number of Memo Requests pending for 10 days or more has consistently hovered around the 3,000 to 3,500 mark and there has been absolutely Zero significant progress made in eliminating the backlog. The latest statistics are:
DELAY IN CERTIFICATE REQUESTS
Again, the First Stats from Tshwane were as at 9 July 2020.
The latest statistics are:
It is clear that there are not as many Certificates Pending from previous months as Memos Pending from previous months.
HOWEVER, there should be virtually no Certificates Pending for more than 3 to 4 days of payment. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! Surely all the information is captured already and it is only a case of matching the Payment to its relevant account? Conveyancers are experiencing a MASSIVE issue where payment of the Clearance Figures is made well before the Figures expire but due to the City’s failure to issue the Certificates timeously, the Figures expire and the Conveyancer has to start again from the beginning. HOW CAN ANY CONVEYANCER EXPLAIN THIS TO A CLIENT?
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW
As a result of the failure of the electronic system, Conveyancers are again required to make “manual interventions”(i.e. physically send people to the Municipal Offices). These interactions create the opportunity for bribery and corruption that would not be possible if the electronic system was operating efficiently. There is anecdotal evidence reaching the Property Committee of the PAA that such bribery and corruption is becoming rampant again. The Property Committee has reported more than a dozen such instances to the City and the City has also taken to conduct its own investigations where certain Firms may be receiving their Memos and/or Certificates in unusually short periods of time. The PAA is unaware of any action taken by the City regarding any of these irregularities.
Obviously, the vast majority of Conveyancers are not party to such nefarious activity and Conveyancers are suffering EXTREME FRUSTRATION as a result of the delays and the “abuse” received from Buyers, Sellers and Estate Agents. It is therefore disappointing that there has been an extremely poor response to the Legal Opinion and Offer of Litigation Assistance obtained by the Property Committee of the PAA at extremely reduced rates. This creates the impression that Conveyancers may not be as frustrated as we think or that Firms are conducting their own litigation.
The Litigation option remains available to our members. Please contact Chantelle Gladwin-Wood if you have any questions or you can view the recording of the Webinar presented to our Members by the Property Committee of the PAA, which can be requested.
Chantelle Gladwin-Wood(Partner) at Schindlers
(011) 448 9678
Maike Gohl(Partner) at Schindlers
(011) 448 9679
The City of Tshwane has recently provided the attached breakdown of the reasons why matters are backlogged:
PRETORIA ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
An extract of related correspondence between Gauteng Attorneys Association and Tshwane…
From: Anton Theron
Sent: Friday, 13 November 2020 09:23
To: ‘Phanyangani Joel Gwangwa’ Cc: ‘Audrey Gwangwa’ ‘Susan Hurter’ ; ‘Sheldon Damons’; ‘Francis Ndlovu’ ; ‘Mare-Lise M. Fourie’ and others…
Subject: Runners and Rates Clearances
Dear Mr Gwangwa
Our telephone conversation this morning refers.
We attach the report by the Property Committee of the Pretoria Attorneys Association hereto and also refer to the trailing emails, which are self-explanatory.
We are extremely grateful for all the efforts by the Registrar and the staff of the Pretoria Deeds Office to clear the existing backlog. The nature of the problems experienced by all conveyancers to obtain rates clearances are clearly highlighted by the attached documents.
The impact of the various backlogs obviously affect the public and we trust that we can find solutions to limit rejections, unless absolutely necessary. A rejection, with a note that is capable of being resolved on prep, will have far reaching consequences for the individuals involved in the transaction.
We shall continue with our efforts to find solutions to the problems experienced in obtaining rates clearances from Tshwane and other Local Authorities.
Thank you for your continued support and assistance.
For the Property Committee of the Gauteng Attorneys Association
From: Nicole Pagel
Sent: Thursday, 12 November 2020 12:26
To: Mare-Lise M. Fourie
Cc: Anton Theron; Donald Mokgehle; Gareth Shepperson
Subject: FW: Runners and Rates Clearances
Good day MMC Fourie
I believe that you have been re-instated to your position within Tshwane. Is this correct?
If so, please see below, which follows my email of a few days ago, in which I copied you.
We, on the property committee, decided a couple of months ago already, that meetings with Tshwane are only generating promises and not results. This is why we have not pushed to have another meeting, as nothing real has come from them.
Mr Shilenge has responded to Mr Theron’s email below, to say that he would arrange a meeting, but I do not think that there will be any point to this if you are not present.
Please could we humbly request that you attend whatever meeting is to be arranged?
Thanks and regards
MANAGING DIRECTOR at STEGMANNS
From: Anton Theron
Sent: Thursday, 12 November 2020 11:26
To: Ronny Shilenge ; Norman Mkhwanazi; Sam Chepape
Cc: Gareth Shepperson >; ‘Miriam Jansen van Vuuren and others…
Subject: Runners and Rates Clearances
Dear Ronny, Sam and Norman
The total failure of the electronic system has now caused irreparable harm to many of the firms who, on our request, have not made use of runners. Unfortunately, we now have to place on record that the runners are achieving results where we have failed. We can no longer avoid the use of runners by members and, regrettably, have to say that we warned you in our meeting in June that this would happen if the system did not work
May we please have an urgent discussion to find ways of restoring faith in Tshwane, the law abiding conveyancers and the electronic system.
Please advise us when we can have the meeting requested