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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Row over excavation for mosque

Ridwaan and Rizana Karrim look at the giant hole in their driveway adjacent to an excavation for parking for a new mosque in Puntan’s Hill, Morningside. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Ridwaan and Rizana Karrim look at the giant hole in their driveway adjacent to an excavation for parking for a new mosque in Puntan’s Hill, Morningside. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 25, 2023


Durban - A neighbourhood in Puntan’s Hill, Morningside, expected a resident of their street to build a new mosque that would be ready by Ramadaan.

Now that the Islamic religious holiday has started, all there is to show for the area that would have provided parking for the place of worship on a property in Imeson Road is a huge, steep-sided hole. It has damaged the Karrim home’s driveway and a long drop directly outside their outhouse threatens the building.

In court this week, the developer faced a threat of jail time for being is contempt of court for not having obeyed a court order. In January, the court had told him to take remedial action within 48 hours.

A draft order, drawn up by consent, mentions “imposing a period of imprisonment… on Muhammed Subathar”.

The Durban High Court has now ruled that the developer has until May 5 to repair the dangerous situation.

In court papers, Ridwaan Karrim said his family feared for their lives and home being at risk, and the building works not in compliance with building codes and regulations.

“In fact, we are fearful that we are one heavy rain away from our property collapsing,” his affidavit read.

Also in the documents is a preliminary engineer’s report “that the construction site has undergone deep excavation along the boundary line to depths of three to 4.5 metres. The banks were cut almost vertically with no or inadequate form of lateral support”.

“The extent of the damage is that sections of the cut bank have already started to collapse with encroachment on our property.”

He said his engineer’s report further stated that the exposed bank was extremely unsafe, that a slip failure of the excavated banks was a strong possibility and “the outbuilding on our property will collapse if the site is excavated up to the boundary”.

Court papers from the municipality, dated in January, also revealed that Subathar had not had the required permission from the heritage authority, Amafa, to destroy a building on the property adjacent to the Karrims and that his application to have the property rezoned for purposes of worship was under consideration.

“No demolition applications were submitted for consideration for approval prior to the demolition of the buildings on site, and it is assumed that similarly Amafa had not been issued any demolition permits. This contravention will be pursued separately,” the papers read.

The municipality added that a request was submitted to the Building Inspectorate Office on December 8 “for consideration for Provisional Authorisation for remedial works on site, however, the request was refused due to insufficient information submitted and the continuation of dangerous work methodologies on site”.

The municipality also warned that unprotected vertical earth banks might collapse onto workers below.

On January 20 the developer submitted a report on the deep excavation site that was “wholly unsatisfactory” in that it did not provide the required certification by a qualified structural engineer and methodology proposed failed to properly address the dangerous situation caused by the deep excavation of the subject property” , the court papers read.

“Objections were received and the application is under consideration,” read a document from the development planning, environment and management unit of the development management department’s building inspectorate branch.

The case is continuing.

The Independent on Saturday