The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - Wealthy businessman and former ANC heavyweight Andile Ngcaba could face legal censure from the City of Johannesburg over an “illegal” mansion he is building in Sandton.
His neighbours in Hurlingham are furious they were not consulted over the “monstrosity” they believe has devalued their properties and destroyed their privacy.
“Nobody wants to buy property with this monstrosity looking over them,” fumed a resident who asked not to be named. “At this moment we wouldn’t even be able to give our properties away. It’s a double-storey that looks straight on to my pool area and into my garden. There’s no privacy any more.”
The council said it had now been forced to proceed with legal action against Ngcaba, the former director-general of communications and the executive chairman of Dimension Data Middle East and Africa.
But Ngcaba insists he has done nothing wrong and blames a single neighbour for fuelling the disquiet. He said he wanted to resolve the matter “and particularly remain on good terms with my neighbours… This is my culture. I’m building in accordance with building plans that were approved by the municipality.”
The dispute follows the Gupta family facing a similar uproar in Saxonwold. This week, the city rejected the Gupta’s rezoning application to rectify the illegal extensions made to one of the family’s mansions.
In Hurlingham, residents want to see the Ngcaba property come under similar scrutiny. One, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Towards the end of last year (Ngcaba) demolished his home on the property. Early this year foundations were being dug and bricks and building material delivered. We became concerned because there was no consultation with any neighbours regarding his intentions and the composition of the structure and we never had access to the building plans.”
By March, neighbours approached the city. “Our attempts to go to the council have, however, hit a brick wall. We sent numerous e-mails and made many calls but these were all ignored. Eventually, we had to use our ward councillor to intervene.”
The city did not respond to the Saturday Star’s requests for comment. However, in an e-mail to ward councillor David Potter on October 7, Preggie Naidoo, deputy director of building control at the development planning department, wrote: “There was a time when I was informed that all work had stopped on site and that the developer, who was abroad at the time, was planning to meet with us to sort out this development. It seems nothing positive has materialised from this and so we are forced to proceed with legal action.”
Potter said while building at the site had stopped, illegal building cases could drag on for years.
Another resident was angry that Ngcaba was asking for permission to extend his boundary lines. “His boundary lines have encroached and he is now asking for permission to extend the boundary lines at this late stage when construction is almost complete.”
Ngcaba said he had building plan approval dating as far back as June 2010. “However, the approval of the said plans lapsed prior to my decision to construct the proposed building. On 13 June this year, the local authority approved fresh building plans in respect of the structure which is being erected on my property. The structure… is consistent in all material aspects with the said approved building plans, on which I am instructed I am entitled to rely for the continued construction on my property.
“I did not have to consult with any neighbours prior to the submission of these building plans or the construction, which is taking place pursuant to and in conformity with such approval. Unfortunately, only one neighbour has not consented to the construction, and sadly, would like building to be halted.”
Neighbours accused Ngcaba of violating town planning regulations.
“We’re just trying to protect our properties and our lifestyles. We used to have a lovely view of Sandton. Now we are looking directly at what we think is an office block. We can’t swim, open our curtains, and then there’s the noise factor. Still, to this day, we don’t know what is being built there.”
An estate agent had advised residents to plant trees to obscure Ngcaba’s property. “But by the time the trees are grown, we’re all in our graves,” said another resident. “We have no objection to him (Ngcaba) erecting a building that is compliant with the regulations and the zoning for our area and does not impact on the lifestyle, privacy and security of our neighbourhood.
“Building regulations are there to protect everybody. We can’t allow illegal building to continue all over the place.”