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Wednesday Dec 12, 2012

Neighbour wins court victory in vagrant battle

A property owner was so fed-up with the nuisance and unhygienic conditions caused by vagrants who moved on to a piece of land next to his home that he turned to the Pretoria High Court for help.

Franceso Poretti, of Fairlands in Joburg, told Judge Joseph Raulinga that the nuisance had continued for some time despite promises from the owner - a close corporation called Trionista - to stop it.

He said he had no choice but to force the business and the Johannesburg Metro Council, through a court order, to evict the vagrants.

His complaints include claims that the property is dirty, poses health hazards and comprises incomplete buildings, mostly destroyed by fire.

Poretti also complained that the garden was used as a dumping ground and was "full of filthy and rotting rubbish" which caused it to stink and spread diseases.

Poretti said the property was unfenced, allowing access to vagrants and squatters who had moved in and occupied the garage building.

He complained that they consumed alcohol, relieved themselves in the open and lit uncontrolled fires.

They also made noise all the time and intimidated residents in the area.

"There is also an infestation of rats and other harmful rodents," Poretti told the court.

The judge said the municipality and the land owner had a duty towards other people in the area to maintain order, and this was also governed by statutory law.

He said in terms of the public health by-laws, everyone had a constitutional right to an environment that was not harmful to their health.

He said the risk of a public health hazard occurring must be eliminated wherever reasonably possible. Where not possible, it must be reduced to a level acceptable to the council.

Judge Raulinga said the landowner and the council had to ensure that the land was maintained and that vagrants did not move in and cause a nuisance.

He added that in terms of the national building regulations the council had a right to issue a demolition notice to the landlord, but that the council had failed in its duty regarding this.

Poretti said he had tried everything in search of a solution and even suggested that a wall be built around the property to keep out the vagrants.

He said the rubble should be removed and the activities on the property should be supervised.

Judge Raulinga ordered the landlord and the council to evict all the illegal occupiers, to fence or wall off the property and to clean it up.

Pretoria News

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