Anger grows over illegal land use of Essenwood property

THE furore that has erupted over the illegal occupation and development of the property at 201 John Zikhali Road continues unabated, with residents pointing fingers of blame at the owner of the property, municipal officials and local law enforcement.

According to reports, the municipal property which has been incorporated into the development on the site will be used as a car sales lot, much to the anger and dismay of the surrounding community.

“The property at the intersection of John Zikhali and Stephen Dlamini Roads is owned by the municipality. The property was an open space earmarked for beautification by the Parks Department and the councillor’s office and has since been illegally developed into a parking lot which resulted in R30 000 worth of aloes being destroyed. Not only has there been illegal occupation of the land, but now there is also what looks like illegal land usage taking place. The municipality has failed big time on this,” commented councillor Chris Pappas who has led the fight against the development, together with civic association Save Our Berea, for more than four months.

Pappas explained that the city’s adopt a spot programme did not mean one could simply take over a piece of municipal property and use it for commercial purposes.

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“Adopt a spot is about cleaning, maintaining and beautifying open spaces for the benefit of all. It does not mean one gets free use rights to do what one wants with public land.”

Pappas said the portfolio chairpersons on the Executive Committee should be held accountable for non-delivery of the departments they had authority over.

“When do we start asking Exco members to account for the declining state of safety, law and order? As ward councillors we are at the coalface of service delivery and residents’ issues. We must answer to the people every day. That is our job. But who do portfolio chairpersons on Exco answer to when enforcement under Metro Police is not taking place?”

He questioned whether the city had the ability to protect law-abiding property owners in light of all the rogue developments that have sprung up across the city.

Berea Mail has attempted to contact the owner of the property for comment, but to date he has not responded.


Save Our Berea takes officials to task

SAVE Our Berea’s Kevin Dunkley and Cheryl Johnson said they were amazed that the city seemed unable to take any effective action over the illegal use of the site and have urged outraged residents to write to the City Integrity Unit to express their objection and demand the business be closed down.

According to the co-founders of the association, AMAFA had reported that the original building on the property had been demolished without the required permission.

ALSO READ: Essenwood property saga continues

“Permission for any use other than residential has not been granted and is therefore illegal. The entire site has been hardened with tarmac, which is also against the bylaws. As if all that is not enough, the owner has annexed land belonging to the city without permission. When you take something that belongs to somebody else, without permission, then it is normally known as theft. The arrogance of the person responsible for all this knows no bounds,” they fumed.

The duo were at a loss at how city officials seemed incapable of dealing with the situation.

How long are we prepared to put up with the building inspectorate seemingly unable to see what ratepayers can see, even though it is their job and not ours? Why has it become common practice for certain people to break bylaws and ignore regulations? Instead of being forced by the municipality to reverse these illegal actions, they are rewarded by having their deviations approved in retrospect,” they asked.

ALSO READ: Durban municipality acts on Essenwood property

What angered the pair even more was that when the lack of action was criticised, law enforcement for the city took umbrage claiming they had done everything possible in terms of the law.

“As paid officials, do they not see that the law is totally inadequate and that it is their duty to propose to the politicians, as in any efficient city in the world, the changes in the law that are required. Our problem is government talking down to the people instead of government listening to the people,” they said.



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