A “hijacked” Durban building is at the heart of a legal battle between property developers and a couple who have allegedly taken charge of the building and are collecting rent from tenants. Picture: Archives
 
Property developers have gone to the Durban High Court to evict a Bonnie and Clyde-style couple who, they say, have “hijacked” their building in the Durban city centre.
 
They also want illegal occupiers - whom the pair are apparently pocketing rent from - out of the building.
 
The man, they say, allegedly shot dead a woman who tried to move out.

They say the building is a serious health and safety risk for all those living there and that they just want to bring it up to code.

But occupiers are opposing their evictions and say they have nowhere else to go.

The director of Sprok Properties, Michael Schaeffer, said in court papers that Ana Capri - in Diakonia Avenue, in the city centre - had fallen into a state of disrepair.

Schaeffer said Sprok was trying to negotiate with the occupiers in an attempt to have them leave voluntarily so the building could be renovated.

To this end, he said, a representative of theirs had been approaching occupiers and making them cash offers to assist with the cost of moving and finding alternative accommodation.

But Schaeffer said one man had established himself as the person “in charge” of the building and was collecting rent from occupiers.

And he allegedly shot dead one woman, after he learnt that she had agreed to accept Sprok’s offer.

The matter was set down to be argued on Thursday.

But some of the occupiers were not happy with the pro bono lawyers they had been appointed and requested a postponement to secure the representation they wanted.

The case was adjourned to November.