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Friday Jun 13, 2014

Illegal Joburg church already at second storey

Another illegal building is going up under the nose of the City of Joburg building inspectors, and despite two stop orders, the Alleluia church is continuing its building operations unabated.

A new, two-storey church is being constructed in Lyndhurst, without any approved plans.

The church has also closed off a public street, Astra Road, claiming it has permission from the Johannesburg Roads Agency.

Neighbours have been trying since 2009 to stop church activities, which include loud noise over weekends as well as heavy traffic problems at service times.

None of the neighbours would agree to be named as they claim they've been threatened by church members.

However, town planner and architect Marian Laserson has taken up their cause.

'The noise from functions and services has been intolerable,' she said.

'There are no approved plans for the buildings on the site, so it is not possible for them to hold gatherings. There is also no town-planning permission to have a place of worship,' she said.

Laserson said the plans for the area make mention of the unstable condition of the ground.

'In other words, it is possible that the buildings may be insufficiently constructed as far as safety is concerned. Why is there no law enforcement as far as illegal building is concerned, particularly those which cause disturbance?' she asked.

'The building is already at second-storey height and they are continuing to build,' said Laserson.

The City of Joburg said two notices have been served on the owner and the matter has now been referred to its legal department.

City spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said the issue of illegal churches is an ongoing challenge.

'In most instances, these are occurring from existing buildings, which makes it an issue of illegal land use if the rights do not permit such usage,' Modingoane said.

'It may also occur that some building work takes place, to accommodate this new use, such as provision of ablutions and other ancillary uses.

'The only consideration that can be given to churches is through the relevant townplanning schemes. Any church operating outside of the provisions of the scheme is deemed to be illegal.

'This matter has also been registered by the environmental health department. The department will be sending an environmental health inspector to investigate and recommendations will be made accordingly,' he said.

The pastor of the church, Alph Lukau, did not respond to a request for comment.

City Watch
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