City of Joburg accused of ignoring illegal building transgressions
Johannesburg - The City of Joburg is ignoring thousands of illegal building transgressions in the suburbs with owners transforming normal residential houses into “lodges” and “guest houses”.
This is resulting in not only the city losing revenue from property rates but is forcing many property owners to sell their properties because of the devaluation in these illegal structures are causing.
Some are threatening to sell their properties at premium prices to the same illegal developers.
The eastern suburbs of Kensington, Malvern, Jeppe and surrounds are of particular concern. In Kensington South, a developer first turned a heritage residential house into a B&B with eight bedrooms and then applied to convert two cottages at the back of the house into additional accommodation.
However, neighbours claimed that a small block of flats was being built in the back yard as solid foundations and high walls were being built.
Residents have signed a petition to stop construction but the city has done little, and internal instructions issued by the planning and building departments to stop construction have been ignored.
When building officials went to inspect with Joburg Metro Police Department officers this week, the owner produced “approved” plans.
“The plans he produced are totally different to what is being constructed and the officials shrugged their shoulders and left,” said ward councillor Neuren Pietersen.
“This is getting out of control. I have over 1 000 reported cases of illegal development with people building on additional rooms, cottages and structures.
“This owner has already illegally built a four-storey block of flats in Natal Street, Lorentzville, and owes the city thousands of rand in service arrears. He is currently paying rates of R213 a month only because the city records still reflect a residential property,” he said.
Charlene van Vuuren, who lives next door to the property, said: “Firstly the house was illegally converted into a guest house with all heritage aspects removed. Now he is building these high walls around his backyard. This is happening in between two perfectly-maintained heritage homes,” she said.
Other residents, Grant and Charlene Skipp, said: “We are extremely upset. On October 26 we were woken up to builders arriving at 49 Northumberland Road. A second stop order was issued to the owner on October 10 which was ignored. Do city officials not communicate with each other? Do they want to destroy the suburb?
“How can building inspectors arrive at the premises and grant the owner permission to continue with his building. Why is the building control department contradicting its own report and letting this project continue?” they asked.
Two different sets of plans were allegedly submitted to the provincial Heritage Resource Association and city.
“We are bitterly disappointed in the lack of law enforcement which leads us to believe there may be corruption.”
Metrowatch has seen a city document instructing the issuing of another stop order to the property owner, imposing penalties and referring the matter to the legal department.
The City of Joburg did not respond to a request for comment.