Questions over Durban housing projects’ safety

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Published Sep 19, 2023


Durban - Questions have been raised about the safety of several housing projects in Durban after it was revealed that these “homes” were not issued with certificates of completion.

The certificate of completion is seen as a guarantee that the structure was built according to building legislation and safety standards.

The IFP in eThekwini first raised the issue of the safety of many houses built by Woodglaze Trading, which had been involved in several social housing projects prior to 2010.

In response to questions from The Mercury, the eThekwini Municipality confirmed that several developments were affected.

Responding to a question about how many developments had not been issued with the certificate, eThekwini Municipality’s spokesperson, Gugu Sisilana said: “According to the information at our disposal, there are 30 residential complexes with a total number of 2 397 units and all of them are occupied.

“The eThekwini Municipality has via a council resolution last month, resolved that selected units developed by Woodglaze Trading which were built prior to 2010 will be assessed in accordance with the National Building Regulation (NBR) that was applicable at the time of construction,” she said.

She added that a steering committee had been established to ensure that the assessment of these units was expedited.

“The committee has managed to deliver completion certificates to some of the affected units, and establish what deviations are required for most of the remaining units to be compliant.

“The City is endeavouring to resolve the issue via the established steering committee,” she said.

IFP councillor Jonathan Annipen said among the developments affected were the houses known among residents, as “Ronnie’s Flats”.

Annipen said the lack of certificates of completion was a serious breach and raised questions about whether the buildings were safe for habitation.

DA councillor Tino Pillay said the City had not done its job to ensure residents were safe, adding that he was aware of at least 20 to 30 houses in his ward where the residents were dealing with this problem. He added that it was up to the City to assess the buildings and ensure that the regulations were complied with, and the buildings were safe to occupy.

Alan Beesley of ActionSA said it was totally unacceptable that people were allowed to occupy developments prior to the certificates being issued.

“The issuing of these certificates is pivotal in ensuring the health and safety of occupants. The City by allowing occupation without these certificates, would be placing the well-being of occupants at risk.

“Furthermore, allowing occupation without certificates would allow developers to get off the hook in case of poor construction. One has to question who is ultimately calling the shots in this case, the developer or the ANC-led municipality? Furthermore, one has to question why normal occupation rules have not been followed? The answer could well point to corrupt activities.”

The Mercury reached out to a representative of Woodglaze who declined to speak citing information privacy laws. Calls to Woodglaze’s office landline were also not answered.

Media reports show that the company has faced sanctions over compliance issues before. In 2014, the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) imposed a penalty of R1.4 million on Woodglaze Trading (Pty) Ltd, trading as Ladybrick, after a disciplinary committee found it guilty of 96 counts of contravention of section 14(1) of the Housing Consumers Protection.

A statement from the NHBRC states that the fine came after a routine inspection found that construction had commenced for 96 residential units in Newlands West without the project having been enrolled with the council. The act states that all new homes must be enrolled with the NHBRC, 15 days prior to construction.