Court rules on war of neighbours

By Tania Broughton Time of article published Oct 6, 2014

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Durban - A Durban High Court judge has intervened in a war between two Morningside neighbours, granting a final interdict to stop any further “abuse” and appointing an administrator to help restore peace.

Raymond “Craig” and Patricia Eldridge live next door to Shane and Jayshika Manikam in a two-unit sectional title complex in Valley View Road.

Although they share a boundary, they have little else in common and things reached a head a year ago when the Eldridges made an urgent application to the high court and secured an interim interdict against the Manikams.

The matter returned to court recently to determine whether the interdict should be made final and to settle the issue of the appointment of an administrator.

In her ruling this week, acting Judge Sharon Marks said there were two swimming pools in the complex, both in the “common property”.

The driveway was narrow and if the Eldridges parked outside their unit, it impeded but did not prevent other vehicles from passing to get to the Manikams’ unit.

It was this that sparked the events of June 22 last year, with the Eldridges alleging that Shane Manikam had hooted, “expressing his displeasure” at their parked car.

They claim he got out of his car and “in an aggressive fashion” swore at them. He then stood “nose to nose” with Raymond Eldridge, asking what he was going to do about his swearing.

They called the police after he disconnected their electricity and water, but even the police were not able to persuade him to restore it.

He restored the electricity only about 15 minutes after the police left and when the Eldridges approached the court for the interdict three days later, they still had no water.

Manikam admitted to swearing at them, but denied he was physically threatening. He claimed he was provoked. He also alleged the electricity and water were both turned on that same day.

He filed a counter application, seeking an interdict against the Eldridges stopping their alleged verbal abuse and ordering that they stop parking their car on the common property and provide remote access and the use of the swimming pool.

“Personal relations between the parties have disintegrated,” Judge Marks said.

Regarding the interdict, she said Manikam’s version about the timing of the restoration of service was “highly improbable” because it was unlikely the Eldridges would go to such an effort and the enormous expense of a high court application if they had water.

“This is clearly a case where his behaviour warrants being restrained,” she said.

She dismissed the counter application, saying it appeared to be a “kneejerk reaction” with flimsy and nonsensical underlying facts.

In particular, the relief seeking the use of a swimming pool in the Eldridges’ garden was puerile and childish because the Manikams had exclusive use of their own swimming pool.

Of the appointment of an administrator – opposed by the Manikams – she said it was common cause that the body corporate was non-existent, had never met and none of the statutory obligations had been attended to.

“The appointment of an administrator is a drastic remedy… and usually done only where there is an underlying feud between the parties.”

She said there was no evidence to substantiate the Manikams’ suspicions that the person put forward by the Eldridges to do the job, Andre Grundler, would not be impartial.

“He is highly respected… the accusation is not only unfounded, but insulting,” Judge Marks said.

Saying there was a dire need for an independent person to take the reins, she appointed Grundler for three years and ordered him to report back to the court every six months on progress.

The Mercury

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