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Monday Sep 03, 2018

Joburg destroys illegal buildings

The City of Joburg has warned that the remaining 52 demolition orders for illegal buildings are to follow soon.

The first two were carried out in Northcliff and Cyrildene on Friday.

The development planning department, the Joburg metro police and the sheriffs of the court arrived with trucks and demolition teams at a property in Northcliff where the owners had built three wooden huts which they were renting out or using as storage.

Member of the mayoral committee Reuben Masanga said the owners, a company called Serviplex, had been issued with a demolition order in 2016, which had been ignored.

"We even sent officials last week to warn him that we were coming and he said we should go ahead. He didn't believe we would carry this out. Joburg residents have, for far too long, been ignoring building by-laws and doing as they please, knowing that, by and large, they will get away with it.

"We cannot take this lawlessness any longer. There are building laws which have to be abided by," he said.

Responding to claims that the city was taking too long to approve plans which caused people to build without approved plans, Masanga said the city had a specific turn-around time for building approvals.

"However, because of corruption in the past, many developers were paying officials to expedite approvals, thereby pushing back the turn-around time for others." He added there had been new appointments in that department.

One of the tenants, Liam da Roche, living in the wooden hut, was a victim. He said he had been paying rent to the owners and did not know about the imminent demolition. The owner, he said, was overseas.

"I am now homeless and have nowhere to go." City officials, however, showed no mercy as they placed his belongings on the pavement, saying this was not an eviction, but a demolition order, and the owners should take responsibility.

Next in line was the owner of a property in Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene, who had built a frontage of shops onto a old house, as well as several extensions of rooms which he was renting out, and storage areas.

The city sent in a front-end loader which broke down the walls, section by section, as the owner scurried to salvage his possessions from the rooms.

City spokesperson Virgil James said this issue had been going on since 2009.

"He was warned time and time again to stop building and demolish what he had built, but he ignored us for years," he said, explaining that obtaining a demolition order can take years.

"There is a whole legal procedure to follow in which the owners are given plenty of time to rectify or stop the illegal buildings, but in most cases they ignore us, thinking the city will not act."

Anna Cox
The Star


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