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Tuesday May 08, 2012

Retired magistrate uses law to oust brothel

Peter Weber, 81, says he is finally living in peace after winning a six-year battle against the operation of such an establishment alongside his Umbilo, Durban, home.

Fromer magistrate Peter Weber in front of his home.

Weber started the fight in 2006 after continued noise disturbance, degradation of the area, and regular presence of prostitutes and their clients threatened to diminish the value of the properties in the quiet horseshoe road, and "erode the basis on which we chose to settle in this area".

As there was also a school in the area and a crèche in the same road, Weber said the activity at number 4 Allenby Gardens posed a danger.

Signs were displayed outside reading "Hlalanathi" (meaning "stay with us", but often associated with the operation of prostitutes).

In the appeal to the Town Planning Appeals Board, Weber and his neighbours asked that the decision by the eThekwini municipality to grant permission for the existing dwelling to be converted into a bed 'n' breakfast establishment be set aside, as the correct processes - such as notice of conversion plans, and plans made available to prospective objectors - were not followed.

"The gates are seldom ever closed between 4am and 10pm, enabling all and sundry to amble in and out, especially sex workers and aspirant male clients," he stated in his address to the board in March 2010. Minibus taxis, buses and even trucks were in and out of the road and premises throughout the night, often left idling.

Weber told The Mercury yesterday that he had spoken to such workers who had told him that they operated from the house as the rates were cheap.

Weber also attempted to sue the house owner for damages to the value of R180 000 for displaying the sign which, he said, devalued his home. The sign was removed and the noise stopped. However, Weber said a new sign was erected, a green circle with a blue border. The owner has two other properties in Clark Road, and both also have this logo, which Weber believes has the same meaning as "hlalanathi". Both properties were exposed as being brothels by Carte Blanche in 2009, although the owner denied this.

In March, the Town Planning Appeals Board set aside the municipality's granting of the application for conversion of the house to a B&B. Attempts to contact the owner were unsuccessful.

The Mercury

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