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IOLProperty - South African Property For Sale
Monday Nov 19, 2012

eThekwini loses bid to strip residents of land ownership

The eThekwini Municipality was dealt a legal blow this week when the Durban High Court dismissed its "fatally defective" application to expropriate the land of 25 Pinetown families.

The city had sought an order to cancel the title deeds given to the group living in Luganda, west of Pinetown.

The municipality had argued that the registrar of deeds authorised them "to act accordingly" by expropriating the land.

It also argued that notices had been issued to the landowners to provide proof of ownership .

However, Acting Judge Maurice Pillemer found the municipality also had no documents to prove the occupants had signed any contracts to occupy the land.

"I have misgivings as to whether the regulations apply," said Pillemer. "But even if they do, the regulations are of no assistance to the applicant without it first proving the terms of the agreement in terms of which the land was allocated and the breach giving rise to the right to withdrawn land."

The people in Luganda have lived there since 1995 when the area was classified as a semi-township. The area was governed by the now defunct Town Council of the Borough of Pinetown before it merged, in 1995, with other parts of Durban to form the Durban Metropolitan Council, the predecessor of eThekwini Municipality.

The then council issued title deeds to several owners, some of whom did not come to collect them until the merger was complete and the documents could not be easily traced.

"I was informed from the bar that it is having difficulty locating the agreements that were signed at the time," said Pillemer.

He said in the absence of an enforceable contractual term, there was no apparent legal basis to cancel the landowners' ownership.

"The [eThekwini] papers in the present application do not make a cause of action and there is no reason for an application that is fatally defective to remain in limbo," said Pillemer.

Sunday Tribune

 
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