Municipality, conservation department stop proposed church construction in Kosmos

The Madibeng municipality warned people not to occupy land illegally after the municipality issued a contravention notice last month to stop the proposed building of a church on land in the protected area near Kosmos recently.

Businessman and preacher, Sello Mogodiri

Kosmos residents in the area reacted quickly when trucks with construction material moved onto a property, adjacent to Kosmos Ridge. They were told that a church is to be constructed by Kosmos Ridge businessman Sello Mogodiri. Vegetation was also cleared in a large area in the protected Magaliesberg Mountain Biosphere area.

“Our concerns are the destruction of the protected area which was done without the necessary permission. It was also clear that no permission from the relevant authorities was obtained and that no building plans were approved by the municipality,” a resident said. “We have no problem if development is done legally and with the necessary consent of relevant authorities.”

The municipality was alerted by the ward councillor, Maritza Du Plessis and officials were sent to the site. “The municipality then investigated the matter and issued a contravention notice to the foreman on site for constructing a temporary structure without approval of the municipality. The foreman refused to accept the notice and Madibeng representatives went to the local police to do an affidavit confirming the attempt by the municipality to issue a contravention notice. We have noted that the temporary structure was then demolished by the illegal occupant,” said municipal spokesperson Tumelo Tshabalala. According to Du Plessis, the North West conservation department also visited the site and issued a pre-compliance and compliance notice for clearing of vegetation in the biosphere.

Mogodiri, who is the CEO of the North West Housing Corporation, and the secretary-general of the North West Business Forum, and preaches under the name Bishop Elly Mogodiri, told Kormorant he did not know why there would be objections to a church. “Look at all those churches in Schoemansville.” He declined to comment.

In 2017, Mogodiri was also taken to court and interdicted from building a church. The Citizen reported at the time that owners of a farm overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam had obtained an urgent interdict against Mogodiri who was allegedly intent on building an illegal church on their property.

The Kenya-based directors of the company BobTrak, who owned the farm on the Magaliesberg Ridge at the time, took Mogodiri to court after he started bulldozing large areas of grassland, claiming he had bought the farm and was planning to build a church.

According to the Citizen report, Advocate Rean Strydom, who managed the property on behalf of the owners – both international businessmen – said in court papers that BobTrak had bought the property from the government in 1998 under their previous name, Sonnberg Rehabilitasie, and were still its legal owners.

“We urge members of the public to desist from occupying any land illegally,” Tshabalala said.