The Ekurhuleni municipality was guilty of negligence and maladministration in the way it dealt with damage to a private house, the Public Protector said on Friday.

MV Malahlela filed a complaint on August 2012, accusing the municipality of damaging his house when attempting to fix a 20mm water pipe, the Protector's office said in a statement.

While repairing the 20mm pipe, a 300mm bulk water pipe was damaged, leaking water into the ground for a “considerable time”.

The water resulted in a sink hole about three metres across and five metres deep.

The Protector, Thuli Madonsela, said the pipes were repaired but the sinkhole was left uncovered for nine weeks until Malahlela reported the matter to a newspaper.

After the paper reported the sinkhole, the municipality filled the sinkhole in with dirt.

However, Malahlela later noticed cracks in the walls of his house caused by the sinkhole. He complained to the municipality but they denied blame.

The Protector investigated and found that the damage to the house was caused by the breaking of the 300mm bulk water pipe and was the fault of the municipality.

However, while this was negligence, the municipality was not legally liable because the house was built on dolomitic earth.

Malahleha also complained that the municipality ordered him to vacate the disintegrating house without offering him alternative housing.

“By refusing to offer Mr Malahlela alternative accommodation and only later offering him a 24 square metre shack was both improper and inadequate, constituting maladministration,” the Protector found.

As a penalty, the municipality had to pay back rent already paid for Malahlela's present accommodation.

The municipality also had to ensure the repair of his house was completed without delay. - Sapa