Durban – If the current situation and the smell from EnviroServ operations at Shongweni persist, those looking to sell or rent property could face serious problems, say estate agents.
EnviroServ operates a hazardous waste landfill site in Shongweni.
The landfill, as The Mercury has reported in detail in recent months, has incurred the wrath of community members in Hillcrest, Shongweni, Dassenhoek and surrounds, with residents saying the fumes are responsible for increased rates of illness.
Wakefields sales director Martin McGreal said they had noticed a slump on the rental side of their operations.
“People who rent are far more mobile. They’ve been saying, quite categorically, that they no longer want to live in the area.”
Clients, he said, had been asking agents which areas were more or less affected.
“There have been about half a dozen so far.”
The estate agency is holding a fund-raising event next week – the “What’s that smell Golf Day” – to help cover the legal costs of the Upper Highway Air NPO, which has more than 9 000 members.
“We think it’s important to get behind events like these because it is affecting us and the community,” McGreal said.
Patrick Davison of Century 21 real estate said many people were leaving the area: “It’s affecting us on both the sale and rental sides.”
Seeff chief regional manager for KwaZulu-Natal Dave Jones said they had not seen any change in terms of sales.
“The volume has remained more or less constant. At the end of last year, we recorded 1200 sales. This was the same as 2015.”
He said they had had one isolated case where a sale had been cancelled, citing the smell as a reason.
“I foresee that if the situation is not resolved by the middle of the year, there will definitely be a drop in sales tempo.”
Also examining the controversial issue on Thursday was the Busamed Hillcrest Private Hospital.
The hospital stated that, contrary to rumour, they did not stand to benefit from the ailments suffered by the community. They also said that the cause of the ailments needed to be investigated scientifically and medically.
“We are investigating the feasibility of installing air monitoring equipment at the hospital,” said hospital manager Japie Greyling.
They said they were working with partners and tenants to establish the most effective means of compiling data that might assist in establishing a case study on the impact of the fumes. The accuracy would rely on data from the other hospitals in the area too.
In the Durban High Court, EnviroServ’s bid to get a UK man gagged continued on Thursday.
The company last month took Jeremy Everitt to court in a bid to stop him forwarding information from the Upper Highway Air social media pages to international investors, customers, the media and others.
Group technical director Esmé Gombault said in court papers that the information he was disseminating was “outdated and redundant”.
“EnviroServ has actually lost two of its long-time customers and continues to receive queries from others,” she said.
EnviroServ had launched an ordinary application against Everitt, but Gombault said it could take months to hear and so they had launched an urgent application against him in a bid to obtain some immediate relief.
Everitt, however, maintains that he is acting in his rights as a concerned citizen and that the urgent application is an attempt by EnviroServ to bypass divulging information he requested in connection with the ordinary application.
The matter was on Thursday postponed indefinitely.