Neighbour turning on neighbour in Cape drought
For multi-millionaire businessman Ragi Moonsamy, moving from the hood has come with its challenges
Everybody needs good neighbours – but in times of drought things can get messy, as a Cape Town multi-millionaire has discovered.
Ragi Moonsamy, who was once listed as the 48th richest man in the country and has a penchant for luxury cars, was shocked when investigators from the Directorate of Environmental Law Enforcement came calling at his Constantia home.
Officials had received a complaint that he had diverted water from a stream onto his sprawling property.
This week Moonsamy said: “Why would I use that water? I’ve got my own borehole; I’ve got my own spring.” He believes water is a “sensitive” issue but that the complaint could have emanated from people with mischievous intent.The businessman moved to Constantia – one of the most exclusive suburbs in Africa – over 20 years ago. It is a far cry from the Cape Flats where he grew up and was forced to find a job after matriculating when his father, a barman and waiter, fell ill.
His former neighbour, Chris Kinross, told Times Select he moved into the area in the early 1980s, long before Moonsamy arrived. At the time the stream ran through the property the businessman now owns.
“I know, I put my head on a block, that Ragi did not divert that stream,’’ said Kinross, adding that through the years people had maliciously tried to block the water from running onto Moonsamy’s property.
“For many, many years going back to 1983, that stream ran thought that property. How it got there, why it got there, I can’t say,” said Kinross.Constantia is home to many a millionaire. This is where Princess Diana stayed at her brother’s 10-bedroom mansion when she visited Cape Town. Renowned international author Wilbur Smith calls it home and so did former Proteas captain Graeme Smith.
Rudolf van Jaarsveldt, from the Western Cape department of environmental affairs, confirmed that investigators had inspected Moonsamy’s property, adding: “The investigation has been completed.” Moonsamy had not been charged but had agreed to rehabilitate the site.
“The owner has informed the department that he is exploring rehabilitating the site and has appointed a freshwater ecologist to conduct an assessment of rehabilitation requirements,” said Van Jaarsveldt.
Said Moonsamy: “I don’t want to fight with people, or argue with people. I want to live in peace.”
Elsewhere in Cape Town, law enforcement officials have been kept busy with reports of water theft, according to Cape Town law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason. One resident claimed a neighbour had jumped over the wall and stolen water from a tap, leaving him with a R15,000 bill. But no “conclusive evidence” was found to prove the allegation.