Legal battle on the cards over ‘container city’ at local church

Containers at Riverview Church of Christian Road Westlake. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Containers at Riverview Church of Christian Road Westlake. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 22, 2024


The City is readying for a legal battle as nearly 100 storage containers were not removed from the Riverview Church of Christ premises in Lakeside.

The church had until January 19 to remove the storage containers after the City slapped it with compliance notices.

The containers drew outrage from residents opposed to an alleged lease agreement signed between the storage company and the church.

Deputy mayor and Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, Eddie Andrews on Sunday said: “The City is in the process of instituting litigation and cannot comment until this process has been concluded. We can confirm that containers are still on the site.”

Previously, the City confirmed that it had served a notice in terms of Section 126 of the Municipal Planning By-law on the owner and user of the erf located along Main Road, Westlake and instructed them to cease operating the container site and comply with the Municipal Planning By-law and zoning of the property.

Approached for comment, storage business owner, Dealtry Pickford said he would comment on the matter on Monday.

Previously Pickford confirmed that he had entered into a five-year lease agreement with the church board of trustees, however, an application for a zoning departure at the premises was submitted to the municipality but has not yet been presented at council for approval.

The “container city” which has taken shape at the premises is another layer of controversy in an almost decade-long battle between churchgoers, residents and the church board of trustees following what was described as a “takeover” of the church in 2015.

The lease agreement was allegedly entered into between congregant preacher Honore Makembe, who serves on the church board of trustees, and Pickford without consultation with congregants and affected parties.

Enquiries to Makembe were not answered by deadline on Sunday.

Assistant to the congregation, Derek Beukes, said: “We are very grateful that the City has performed its fiduciary responsibilities to verify the fact that the trust that had been sed as a vehicle in order to make the contractual arrangements with the container people is actually highly questionable.

“They are not the Riverview Church of Christ, they have registered a trust and have... presented themselves as the owners of the property.

“We are very encouraged by the City’s action,” said Beukes.

Riverview Church of Christ said: “We are very happy with this news as we have been trying to put an end to this whole sad saga for many years.”

Cape Times