Article VI: What’s at Stake with the Social Ventures in Africa: The Community’s Heritage and Prized Treasures by Brian Ray Dinning, social venture lawyer


Article 6:  What’s at Stake with the Social Ventures in Africa:

 The Community’s Heritage and Prized Treasures

 By:  Brian Ray Dinning, JD, LLM and Social Venture Lawyer

 

July 13, 2012

You may be asking – what are these social venture projects?  What is it like at Hole in the Wall?  Why would people like Granville Batte, Jeff Brown (White South African hotel owner at Hole in the Wall and slanderous blogger) and Allan Stiner want to steal projects from the community, our social venture partners and me?  How about $98,818,000 of the most sought-after beautiful, untouched oceanfront land on the Indian Ocean in South Africa?  This is the value of the raw, undeveloped land held by the social venture between the community and Pure Africa as determined by a South African property expert and a real estate developer.[1]  To those trying to steal our social venture projects, this is like hitting the lottery – to the local community, it is their future and a means to lift their entire communities out of poverty.  My vision is to stop the cycle of Apartheid and the exploitation of the local community at the hands of people like Batte, Stiner and Brown, to a social venture structure where the community owns 25% to 45% of every project.  The local impoverished community should and must benefit substantially from the sustainable development of their land – it is their right and heritage.

In order for you to fully understand the above statements, I will share a bit of our project vision for the local people in Africa with you and why the community land is so special. The local Xhosa people live on less than $1.00 per day, on average.  They are very poor in a worldly sense but they are blessed with tremendous natural resources – their oceanfront land.  The average tribal leader has less than a sixth grade education, so while they have amazing land – they do not have the tools, skills or education to know how to maximize the value of the land.  This is where our social venture partners bring in the education, know-how, a professional team of lawyers and real estate companies and the finances to help the local community sustainably develop a real estate project to create jobs, job skills training and hopefully profits.  Don’t get me wrong – social venture projects are for-profit – so our goal was to maximize the value of the community land so that the community, our social venture partners and financial partners can all benefit.

Hole in the Wall is a cultural[2] and National icon in South Africa (see photo below).  It is a large rock mountain in the Indian Ocean that boasts beautiful scenery and ocean views.  In 2004, the Development Bank of South Africa “DBSA” and the South African Government funded a study on creating a tourism project at Hole in the Wall.[3]  Our social venture project company was called Incopho, headed up by Bossie Bosman.  In 2004, DBSA, the government and Incopho created a project summary for several projects including:  Hole in the Wall and the Golf Course at Coffee Bay.[4]  In 2005, our social venture partners received a Lease from the South African National Government to develop the community project at Hole in the Wall[5] and a Record of Decision (building permit and authorization) was issued in late 2005.[6]

Views of Hole in the Wall from Development Site

Now, it is well-known that nothing happens in Africa without a meeting:  we literally had hundreds of hours of meetings with the local chiefs, the tribal counsel, the community trust and the local people to show them the business plan and the proposed benefits to the local community.  In Africa, everyone has a right to speak so the meetings were attended by hundreds of people – both young and old.  Once everyone had a chance to voice their opinions and concerns, then we would finalize our social venture project plan.  Finally, after our projects were approved by the local community, we then sought approvals from the National, Provincial and local government.  Once everyone was happy with and had approved the business plan at a social venture like Hole in the Wall, then we would begin.  This initial process takes from 18 months to several years for each project!

At Hole in the Wall, after three years of meetings, the approved plan was to build a tourism site with 50 oceanfront rental homes and a boutique hotel[7] which would create a minimum of 57 jobs for the local community and the potential for hundreds of micro business jobs such as beadwork, tours, sea shell jewelry and other tourism souvenirs and hopefully profits from the development (the community owned 45% of the Hole in the Wall development as our partner).

Architect’s Rendering of Proposed Lodging at Hole in the Wall

In order to help fund the social venture project, Earth Conservancy and The Pure Africa Sustainable Development Fund provided initial funding of $563,000 to pay for engineering fees, architects, plans and approvals and initial project consulting and development costs.  However, funding for construction costs and utilities installation was still needed.  The Development Bank of South Africa expressed initial interest in providing funding to Incopho as early as 2006.[8]  The Development Bank of South Africa then told me that they submitted the social venture project at Hole in the Wall for approval for funding of R25,000,000 or $4,000,000 to put in utilities and facilities.[9]  One of the conditions of DBSA funding is matching funds from the social venture partners so we needed financial partners to assist in funding the project at Hole in the Wall.

Our professional team provided great endorsements of the projects.  We agreed to approach Sotheby’s International Realty to market the Hole in the Wall project.[10]  On May 6, 2008, Lofty Nel, a Principal with the firm of Sotheby’s International Realty provided a letter to the project, which reads:

“Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty are extremely proud and honoured to be granted the exclusive mandate to market Pure Africa Development LLC Hole in the Wall project on the Wild Coast in South Africa.  Marketing of the project has commenced by word of mouth with the official launch of the project scheduled for the end of May, 2008.

The development comprises 51 Ocean front homes in a gated estate at the Hole in the Wall, a national landmark in South Africa.  Earth Conservancy have also been appointed to manage approximately 5000 acres of pristine land adjacent to the project as part of a conservancy.  This will ensure that the amazing views and natural beauty of Hole in the Wall will remain intact for guests and owners at the Hole in the Wall development.”[11]

The 50 lots plus a hotel site were priced for long term lease at an average price of $120,000 per lot for total projected revenue to the social venture project of $6 million.[12]   The engineering firm prepared a lot layout for the Hole in the Wall and architects, engineers, and home builders were appointed to get the project ready to market.[13]

In addition to community and government approval, we also sought the approval of specialized real estate legal counsel.  On September 1, 2008, Russell Linde, South African real estate attorney of the law firm of Smith Tabata provided Pure Africa with a legal opinion letter:

“We act on behalf of the aforesaid Pure Africa, LLC as majority shareholder of Incopho Wild Coast Development Projects (Pty) Ltd.  Incopho, in turn, is the majority shareholder of the project company, The Reserve at Hole in the Wall (Pty) Ltd.  Our firm has represented The Reserve at Hole in the Wall project on behalf of Pure Africa since 2007 as legal counsel.  We also assisted in the referral of the project auditor, Charteris &  Barnes, auditors.

Based upon a review of the documentation, The Reserve at Hole in the Wall is an oceanfront and oceanview real estate development consisting of 50 stands and a small hotel.  The Reserve at Hole in the Wall is being marketed by Lofty Nel of Sotheby’s International Realty in East London, South Africa.

The original documentation for this project dates back to September, 2004.  For this letter, I have reviewed the following:

The Final Scoping Report dated September, 2004;

The Review of Documents relating to proposed Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall developments by East Cape Development Corporation and the Development Bank of South  Africa;

The Ground Lease by and between the Kwa Tshezi Community and Earth Conservancy dated February 6, 2006;

The Lease Agreement between The Government of the Republic of South Africa through the Department of Land Affairs, the Kwa Tshezi Community and Incopho dated February 2, 2006;

The Record of Decision from the Department of Affairs, Environment and Tourism dated August 10, 2005 authorizing Incopho “to construct 50 single storey chalets, a central restaurant, a curio shop and amenities and association infrastructure at Hole in the Wall, KSD Municipal Area.

The Lease Agreement between The Government of the Republic of South Africa through the Department of Land Affairs, the Kwa Tshezi Community and Incopho dated June 21, 2008 which is a 30 year renewable lease at the option of Incopho for up to 90 years and continuing thereafter.

It is also my understanding that Title Deed to the land comprising the Hole in the Wall development is forthcoming to the Community in the next 6 months or longer from the Government of South Africa and the Department of Land Affairs.

Based upon a review of this documentation, Incopho has a valid lease with the Government of South Africa and the Kwa Tshezi Community for up to 90 years or more.  Under South African law, Incopho through The Reserve at Hole in the Wall (Pty) Ltd. can sublease the 50 stands to interested sublessees for rental payments over the term of the lease or the rent and lease may be prepaid.  It is my understanding that sublessees can “purchase” or sublease one or more of the 50 stands for an up-front payment of rent or with 10% downpayment of rent and the balance of the rent payments over 10 years at 12% interest.

It is my understanding that Sotheby’s International Realty will be acting as estate agent in the “sale” of the 50 subleased stands to the general public.  A separate company,  Villager Homes, will be constructing homes on the 50 subleased stands under separate written agreement between Villager Homes and the stand “purchasers” or sublessees.

Finally, when Title Deed is ultimately vested with the Kwa Tshezi Community, it is planned that the 50 stand sublessees may have the opportunity to convert their lease to Title Deed ownership of their stand.”[14]

By May, 2008, all architectural designs, engineering, lot layout, utilities and infrastructure plans were completed and a contract to install all utilities, roads and services to The Reserve at Hole in the Wall were completed.  These crucial steps made it possible for marketing of long term leases for the 50 lots by Sotheby’s International Realty.

In May, 2008, Sotheby’s began to issue marketing materials for Hole in the Wall[15] and in September, 2008, Hole in the Wall was listed as a “hot property” in Conde Nast Home in South Africa and Media Press Releases were issued.[16]  Sotheby’s also went to great expense to create glossy brochures to begin marketing and they also launched a marketing website for the Hole in the Wall project.[17]  Pure Africa and the social venture partners put up a marketing Sign Board at the Hole in the Wall project.[18]  Everyone was excited because Sotheby’s and their marketing experts were certain that the property would lease quickly and that meant up to $6 million of projected revenue for the social venture project and the local community.

However, just as the marketing campaign was beginning, the aggressive bad press campaign team of Batte, Stiner and others jumped in to actively interfere with and destroy the marketing efforts at the Hole in the Wall project.  This was the most damaging tortious interference that resulted from the aggressive bad press campaign – anonymous phone calls from this coordinated group to our real estate professional team and social venture partners.[19] At the launch of the Hole in the Wall project and at other projects, Sotheby’s International Realty, government officials and others received several anonymous phone calls from Virginia and from South Africa stating that the projects were false, that we were trying to sell (versus lease) community land and that I was not someone to be trusted.  The callers also threatened to and did take the matter to the newspapers to discredit Sotheby’s and the social venture projects.  In discussions with Sotheby’s and other real estate firms, we were told that a new development, especially a social venture development, is a delicate matter and you only want positive information for the general public to view when seeking to spend money on a new oceanfront resort.  The decision was made to halt the marketing campaign at Hole in the Wall and try to regroup later.  This was devastating to us because it meant that years of time, effort, money and relationships were wasted.

Each time a project was halted by the malicious and negative actions of Batte and his coordinated bad press campaign, we had to stop everything and try to work on a new project that hadn’t yet been attacked by this group.  However, each time the task grew harder and everyone on the social venture team was tired of the negative attacks and the disappointment and damage that resulted from the negative attacks.

While the social venture projects on the Wild Coast in partnership with the Xhosa community have great potential, many people want to take them over for their own personal gain. Why does it seem to be so difficult to help the poor in Africa?  I know that Oprah Winfrey had a very hard time starting up her social venture project in Africa[20] and the Washington Post and others have reported on the United Nations aid workers sexual abuse of children[21] and also on billions in stolen aid money[22] and corrupt practices by US companies.[23]  In fact, this must be commonplace because I was on the phone with two other social venture project managers in Africa who have had similar experiences to mine.

The next Article describes how Batte, Stiner and others started coordinating with people in Africa in an organized “Wonga-style” coup attempt to either take the social venture projects for themselves or destroy them and me.  The next Article is entitled:  On the Ground in South Africa:  Not Much Better –  Social Ventures in Africa.


[1] See Wild Coast Property Valuation at Article 6 FN 1.  This valuation was prepared by real estate expert Alan Bell and real estate developer David Stefano based upon comparable property values on existing real estate for sale on the Wild Coast of South Africa.

[2] Known in Xhosa tradition as the place of The Great Cattle Killing, Hole in the Wall is steeped in cultural fokelore and significance for the Xhosa people.  For a short version of the legend, see http://www.southafrica-travel.net/eastcape/wildcoast.htm

[3] DBSA Scoping Report is attached hereto as Article 6 FN 3.

 [4] See DBSA – Incopho Project Overview as Article 6 FN 4.

 [5] See National Government Lease to Incopho as Article 6 FN 5.

 [6] See Record of Decision to Incopho as Article 6 FN 6.

[7] See Hole in the Wall Aerial Lot Layout and Site Plan at Article 6 FN 7.

[8] See Development Bank of South Africa letter to Incopho at Article 6 FN 8.

[9] See Development Bank of South Africa email to me at Article 6 FN 9

 [10] See Pure Africa letter to Sotheby’s at Article 6 FN 10.

 [11] See Letter from Lofty Nel of Sotheby’s International Realty at Article 6 FN 11.

 [12] See Plot and Plan Pricing at Article 6 FN 12.

[13] See Model Home specifications by Villager Homes at Article 6 FN 13.

[14] See Opinion Letter of Smith Tabata Law Firm at Article 6 FN 14.

[15] Sotheby’s Booklet showing Hole in the Wall Development at Article 6 FN 15.

 [16] See Conde Nast Home article naming Hole in the Wall a “Hot Property” at Article 6 FN 16.

 [17] See Sotheby’s website layout at Article 6 FN 17.

 [18] See Pure Africa Hole in the Wall signboard at Article 6 FN 18.

[19] See Letter from Dr. Brown to South Africa Department of Land Affairs at Article 6 FN 19.

[20] For an overview of the sexual abuse and other scandals at Oprah’s social venture projects, see http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1939460_1939452_1939416,00.html

FOOTNOTE ATTACHMENTS:

Article 6 FN 1 Land Valuation

Article 6 FN 3 DBSA HITW Scoping Report

Article 6 FN 4 DBSA Overview of Projects

Article 6 FN 5 South African National Government Lease for HITW

Article 6 FN 6 Record of Decision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article 6 FN 8 Development Bank of South Africa initial letter

Article 6 FN 9  Development Bank  of South Africa R25 Million email

Article 6 FN 10 Pure Africa letter to Sotheby’s

Article 6 FN 11 Sotheby’s Endorsement Letter copy

Article 6 FN 13 Villager Home design for Hole in the Wall

Article 6 FN 14 Pure Africa (Opinion Letter for Hole in the Wall

Article 6 FN 15 Hole in the Wall Listing in Sotheby’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article 6 FN 19 William Brown Letter to Land Affairs Mtata Ltr Oct08 re false information from Bosman Stiner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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