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Thursday Oct 09, 2014

Contested Joburg church crashes down

It was a disaster waiting to happen... and it did. A section of a church building being constructed illegally in Lyndhurst, north-east Joburg, collapsed last night, but fortunately no one was injured.

The second storey of the Alleluia Ministries church which was being illegally built in Lyndhurst, north-east Joburg, collapsed last night.

The Star reported last week that Alleluia Ministries had been given two orders by the City of Joburg to stop building as no plans had been approved. Both these stop orders were ignored and construction continued unabated.

Furthermore, according to the city's amendment scheme, the land is not suitable for construction and the entrance to that property should not be on Johannesburg Road, which it is.

A team from The Star was this morning threatened by church members when they attempted to take photographs of the building.

When the team approached the premises for permission to enter and take photos, a person at the gate said he would not allow them in. He ordered the team to move away from the gate. When the team refused, saying they were on a public pavement, he became aggressive. He said The Star had no right to be asking questions. 'Are you the government of South Africa? We have building plans.'

When told that the City of Joburg said they had no plans, he insisted they had plans and that the team 'should go and look for the plan at the council'.

When asked why they were building when the city had ordered them to stop, he said: 'We have had no such order, you must go.'

When the team climbed onto the roof of a next-door building to take photos, church members started shouting that they had no permission to take photos. 'We are going to take that camera by force!' they shouted repeatedly, running towards the locked gate.

At that stage, the team decided to head towards their cars to avoid a physical confrontation.

They managed to drive off while they were still unlocking the gate. As they drove off, the church members ran towards them, their fists clenched in the air.

A member of the church, who would not be named, initially claimed they had deliberately collapsed the section as they thought it had not been built properly.

Neighbours have been complaining about the illegal building and the constant noise and traffic congestion resulting from the construction. Many claimed to have received death threats from church members for complaining.

One neighbour, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was visiting a friend in the neighbourhood when they heard a huge noise.

'My neighbour said to me: 'I hope that is not what I think it is,' meaning the collapse of the church. We went out to investigate and saw the collapsed second storey.

'The church immediately turned off all the lights so people could not take pictures. We heard them working all night trying to clean up,' he said.

He said the fire department arrived at the scene last night and took photos. Joburg Emergency Management Services spokespeople were not available for comment this morning.

Architect Marian Laserson, who is acting on behalf of the residents in trying to get the church closed down, said she was not surprised by the collapse. 'We warned the city to act. 'It is fortunate no one was injured. Let's hope the city now finally decides to take more decisive action,' she said.

This morning the church placed ceiling boards around the scene to block the view from the road and from the building next door.

The City of Joburg this morning was trying to get more information about the incident from its emergency services department who reported to the scene.

After seeing the photos of the building, quantity surveyor John Fourie it was clear that there was inadequate propping and support for the second storey slab.

'It was not a controlled collapse. It collapsed under the weight of the concrete which can be seen (to still be) wet,' he said.

City of Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said the chief building inspector would be visiting the site this morning. He said the matter had been handed over to the city's legal department.

Click here to read our prior article about the church

The Star

    
 

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