Gupta home saga still not solved

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Johannesburg - It has been more than six months since the City of Joburg turned down the well-connected Gupta family in their application to try to legalise their multimillion-rand estate in Saxonwold.

But residents of the suburb are still waiting for word from the council on plans to deal with the mansion.

 

City of Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane, however, gave the assurance that action was being taken behind the scenes in dealing with legality issues around the Saxonwold Drive home.

The owners sent a letter to the council claiming they had not violated any development regulations, and the city sent in a team to inspect the home about a week ago, Modingoane said.

He added that a meeting would be held with the Guptas within the next week or two, in a matter that may turn out to be as innocuous as a misinterpretation of the rules.

The parties involved would first have to ensure everyone “is on the same page”, Modingoane said, before other problems are dealt with.

The mansion has been issued a temporary certificate guaranteeing it is “fit for human habitation” while talks continue, he added.

Modingoane declined to comment on what the council has been doing for the past six months regarding the matter.

According to Craig Pretorius, the town planning consultant for the Saxonwold and Parkwood Residents Association, the Gupta family appealed against the rejected rezoning application in early December with the provincial government.

A hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Van der Merwe and Associates would be representing the Guptas in the appeal, said Gert van der Merwe, an attorney for the firm.

Modingoane said he was unaware of the Guptas’ appeal.

Saxonwold residents were obviously not pleased, Pretorius said.

One Saxonwold resident said the last time she had heard updates about the Guptas’ mansion was in October last year.

The Star’s sister paper, the Saturday Star first reported on the Saxonwold residents’ anger in September when it was revealed the Guptas had built their mansion far larger than the approved building plans stipulated. They then put in a rezoning application to legalise it.

At the time, the Guptas claimed they had not violated any development plans. The residents then sent in their own planner, who found exactly the opposite.

When the city rejected the plans, residents expected the Guptas would have to take down the offending balconies and roof overhangs.

In the papers submitted to council, the Saturday Star reported that infuriated residents had complained about their privacy and lifestyle, as well as the value of their properties, being impacted.

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