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Friday Jan 18, 2013

Court order on derelict Orange Grove property is ignored

Squatters, rats, and filth are flourishing on a derelict property in Fairwood, Ekurhuleni despite a court order instructing the owner Gerald Rubin and the City of Joburg to clean up the stand and evict the squatters.

Roger Chadwick, the chairman of the Orange Grove Residents' Association, at the derelict building in Orange Grove.

Frank Poretti, owner of a neighbouring house, is at his wits' end.

Last year in November he took the matter to court, at his own cost, after both Rubin and the city refused to take steps to clear out the land.

The house has been all but demolished by vagrants.

Poretti won the case with costs. But now Rubin is appealing in a move that Poretti believes is nothing more than a delaying tactic.

The court ordered Rubin, his company Trionista CC and the city council to remove all the rubble and garden refuse from the land.

They were also to evict all the property's illegal occupiers and were ordered to properly fence off or wall it and maintain it in a sanitary condition.

Judge TJ Raulinga said Rubin's reply to the accusations was "far-fetched and clearly untenable... and he was clutching at straws".

The judge quotes the public health by-laws which state that every person has a constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health and wellbeing... and the risk of a public health hazard occurring, continuing or recurring must be eliminated.

Poretti said: "Rubin has no case for an appeal. He has publicly stated he has no money to build on or develop the stand, so he is using the courts to stall cleaning up the property. In the meantime, problems worsen.

"This empty stand has become the first stop for transients from across the border.

"They squat, make fires and a noise which keeps the whole neighbourhood awake, and are causing unhygienic conditions for the whole area because there are no toilet facilities. We have rats and flies swarming around and the stench is unbearable."

The city failed to even send a representative to the court case, he said.

Roger Chadwick, chairman of the Orange Grove Residents' Association, said he didn't believe the owner would clear the land, given the history of the property.

"Poretti has gone beyond what any normal resident would do by taking this matter to court.

"We are unfortunately getting nowhere with the city's law enforcement.

"We spend a lot of time and money identifying infringements, but nothing gets done about them," he said.

The Star

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