'Road closure is a violation of my rights'

By Anna Cox Time of article published Apr 3, 2003

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Residents of some gated suburbs in Johannesburg have been given until Friday to re-open their illegal road closures or face criminal charges.

The Open City Forum - an organisation opposed to security closures - has threatened to lay charges against the local ratepayers' association or its chairperson.

A letter was hand-delivered on Wednesday to Michael Rosholt, chairperson of the Sandhurst Heritage Association in Sandton, demanding that the closures be removed.

Open City Forum chairperson Nick Karvelas said: "Our forum has been inundated with calls from irate road users who have been denied the use of illegally blocked public roads in Sandhurst."

In terms of section 47 of chapter seven of the Rationalisation of Local Government Affairs Act, it was an offence for any person, body or organisation to restrict access to a public place without having obtained authorisation in terms of this act.

Furthermore, in terms of the Road Traffic Act, no person should "wilfully or unnecessarily prevent, hinder or interrupt the free and proper passage of traffic on a public road", said Karvelas.

Rosholt would not speak to the media.

Karin Katz, who lives within the illegal closure in the same street where Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo lives, said she had been barred from entering the very street she lives in because of the illegal closure.

Katz said 11th Avenue in Kensington had been barricaded right in the middle - outside Masondo's house - and the gate was locked with keys when people entered and left.

She, however, had not been given keys because she had objected to the closure.

"I now have to do a whole detour to get into my own property. A public, open road has been closed and I am denied access.

"It is a violation of my rights, and this has the sanction of the mayor, who has done nothing to get the road re-opened even though he knows it is illegal," she added.

Kgotso Chikane, spokesperson for Masondo, said the mayor did not condone the road closure.

"He was not consulted and has never paid fees for the closure. Just because he is the mayor does not mean he gets involved in such issues. Due process must be put in place," he said.

All road closures were illegal, he pointed out. A new road closure policy would be considered by the mayoral committee next week, and if approved, it would act as an overarching policy for all road closures in the city, he said.

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