Pretoria - Unscrupulous property owners and those neglecting their blocks of flats in the Pretoria CBD will face the full might of the metro, which has embarked on an inner city rejuvenation programme aimed at attracting private investment.
Executive mayor Solly Msimanga said on Tuesday some of the buildings were left to rot and some were extremely overpopulated, and had units occupied by between 10 and 15 people.
Other buildings were completely uninhabitable and no longer suitable for the purposes initially intended, Msimanga said.
He warned against such tendencies by property owners, saying law enforcement was ready to “pounce” on them should they not comply with the city’s requirements.
“We are also sending a strong warning to absentee landlords to get their house in order and pay for services,” he said.
The city would monitor buildings that were vulnerable to degeneration and act against the owners, the mayor said. ”Every person deserves to live in a dignified environment and we call on landlords to be sensitive to this request.”
Msimanga said some buildings were riddled with service connections that contravened every by-law in the city.
“Derelict buildings often harbour criminals and rob our city of the economic productivity needed to enhance the quality of life of all residents,” he said.
The stern stance taken by Msimanga is in support of the inner city rejuvenation programme aimed to attract private investment to the capital city. Msimanga launched the programme in Centurion.
“Fighting crime is at the top of our priority list. We will do what we can within the confines of the law to reclaim our beautiful city from criminals,” Msimanga said.
He appealed to various stakeholders such as financial institutions, private property owners and tenants to play their role in advancing the regeneration programme.
The city had a major role to play in the drive towards sustainable development and positioning itself as a sustainable African capital city.
“Therefore, one of the sectors we are focusing on to achieve sustainable growth and development is the built environment.”
Msimanga was joined by MMC for Community Safety Alderman Derrick Kissundooth and his Economic Development and Spatial planning counterpart Randall Williams.
He said the rejuvenation initiative represented the city leadership’s commitment towards the urban renewal drive to revitalise the capital to attract investment and productive activities.
Part of the programme was to ensure cleanliness in the city to enable formal and informal businesses to conduct their activities in a conducive environment.
Msimanga said implementation of the project would be multi-pronged to deal with crime and illicit activities in the CBD.
During his State of the Capital Address last month, Msimanga said the city was working to attract R10.8 billion in investment – “the rejuvenation of our inner city will go a long way to achieving this”.
Msimanga said the rejuvenation programme was not designed to stifle the work of informal traders or any other businesses.
Municipal law-enforcement would clamp down on derelict buildings, illegal electricity and water connections, drug-related cases, unlawful businesses and the contravention of by-laws.
“The city will enhance sound urban management and define the enforcement capacity of the municipality, landlords and the courts to deal with derelict buildings.”
Kissoonduth said: “Law enforcement agencies will act against owners of buildings that have degraded to such an extent that they are no longer suitable for human occupation and those used for business-related activities in violation of the Derelict Buildings By-law or any other related legislation.”
The metro police would work with the SAPS and Home Affairs to effect arrests for criminal activity emanating from or linked to degraded buildings, he aid.
“Our Liquor Licence Officers will investigate the validity of liquor licences,” said Kissoonduth.