The poor conditions in government-owned Ursula Court, Hillbrow, have reached the attention of the court. RIGHT: Sewerage water flowing from the building.
It is  shocking that private developers and owners are being forced to take the Gauteng provincial government to court to maintain, rehabilitate, clean up and make their buildings fire complaint.

Neighbouring building owners claim some of these buildings are in a state of decay and are unsafe.

The unsafe conditions in a government-owned residential building in Hillbrow reached the High Court a few days before last week’s fire in the Lisbon Building which led to the deaths of three firefighters.

The case of the poor conditions in Ursula Court have been reported by neighbours since 2014.

The body corporate of the-then newly-refurbished building, Santa Barbara in Klein Street, just off Ockerse Street, next door to Ursula Court, had taken the provincial government to court already in 2015 in an attempt to force it to repair and maintain the building.

Property developer Renney Plit, who refurbished Santa Barbara, said the court had also recommended, in 2016, that this matter be referred to “case management”, which means the court can keep track of the progress made by the provincial government to rectify the situation.

“This, I believe, is a first,” he said.

On September 3, a few days before the Joburg CBD fire, the case was again taken to the court and Judge Raylene Keightley directed that an on-site inspection and meeting be held at Ursula Court because of unsafe conditions there, within the next few weeks.

Plit said the poor conditions in the building were spilling over and causing health hazards for the owners in Santa Barbara, pedestrians and other building owners with constant water and sewage spillages and non-existent fire measures.

Metrowatch has been reporting on the condition of the building since 2014.

At the time, the provincial government responded to questions, saying two departments were involved and they were “still busy with internal consultation, and hoped to finalise the matter within a week”.

“Instead of fixing the building, the government spent taxpayers’ money in court to try to defend the indefensible, but doesn’t have money to look after its properties.

“When occupants die in Ursula Court, we will get more sympathy and cover-up statements from province,” he said.