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Tuesday Nov 22, 2016

Court orders Durban to clean up streets

In a "victory" for two eThekwini businessmen who complained that their customers were being chased away because of filth and vagrancy, the city has been ordered by the high court to enforce its own "public nuisance" bylaws.

In an order granted earlier this month, Durban High Court Judge Piet Koen directed the municipal manager to conduct patrols and clean-up operations in the Stamford Hill area where Arthur Limbouris and Cuan Cronje have their clothing businesses.

The order – which was taken by consent following argument in the matter – further directs that the city must provide four metro police officers and five labourers at least once a week in the early mornings and overnight in the area.

Limbouris and Cronje launched the unusual court application last year, effectively seeking an order against the municipal manager forcing him to "do his job properly".

They claimed they collectively paid more than R1 million in rates every year and yet every day when they arrived at work, they were faced with the stench of human faeces and lines of homeless people sleeping on the pavement in Oldham Avenue, which runs behind the buildings they own in Mathews Meyiwe (Stamford Hill) Road.

"We are not getting anything back for our rates. We now have a court order to ensure that the city commits to a proper clean-up, ongoing maintenance and ongoing policing of this area. If the city does not comply we will go back to court," Lambouris told The Mercury yesterday.

In their court papers, they detailed how over the years they had attempted to resolve the problem themselves by hiring private security, fencing in an electricity substation which was being used as a toilet, and hosing down the streets.

They argued that the municipal manager had a "special responsibility" to ensure services were provided to local communities in a sustainable manner and that rates were spent equitably.

While the city had, at times, taken steps to resolve the problem these were short-lived.

The city opposed the application, arguing that it was doing all that it could and was enforcing the bylaws.

It said bylaw enforcement was not financed from rates and the men were shifting the responsibility to protect their properties to the municipality.

But when the matter was argued before Judge Koen, the city agreed to a consent order.

Attorney Jason Clemens, who acted for Limbouris and Cronje, said the application had highlighted the huge social problem of vagrancy.

The city did not respond to a request for comment.

The Mercury

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