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Monday May 14, 2012

Langebaan property owner defies court over road access

Many Langebaan residents still don't have easy access to the sea, despite a Western Cape High Court ruling ordering a private landowner to reopen to the public a section of the old "white road", which runs along a stretch of the Langebaan lagoon.

Freddie Makka, 78, at the locked gate which bars access to Langebaan's 'white road'.

The residents were cut off from the sea after Dormell Properties 391, owned by Riccardo Scarpellini, closed the road on May 15 last year.

This week, acting High Court Judge Nonkosi Saba ruled in favour of the Langebaan Ratepayers' and Residents' Association, ordering Dormell Properties to open the road.

The association argued in court that a public right of way, constituted by ancient use, existed in favour of the public along the route followed by the white road - made of gravel and white sand.

Judge Saba said if Dormell Properties failed to open the road, the sheriff of the High Court would do it.

The association submitted affidavits by two elderly residents, Sophia Makka, 72, and Freddie Makka, 78, to substantiate its argument.

Sophia Makka said that as a child she and her six brothers use to freely walk on the white road on the way to school, church and to buy groceries. She had never needed permission to do so.

Freddie Makka, who has been a fisherman all his life, said since his childhood days he and other fishermen had used the gravel road - without any hindrance - to get to the beach to collect seagrass, which they sold to a general store.

When he visited the road yesterday, access to it was still barred by a locked gate.

In opposing the application, Scarpellini said that after the division of the road, the developer instituted a permit system in terms of which members of the public were required to obtain permits from the site office at Myburgh Park to secure access, by foot, to the shore.

He also relied on letters from Cape Town's surveyorgeneral and the Department of Public Works which, he said, confirmed that the gravel road was a private road on private land.

Welcoming the judgment, the chairman of the Langebaan Ratepayers' and Residents' Association, Jaco Kotze, said: "The road is a popular route, particularly for fishermen, cyclists, joggers and walkers, since it provides both beach access and beautiful lagoon vistas to the south and the southwest. It is used by ordinary people on a daily basis."

He added that the association had been told that Dormell Properties intended applying for leave to appeal the high court judgment.

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

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