The City of Joburg is embarking, with the department of development planning, on a journey to enforce demolition orders against illegally built structures.
This follows efforts to give the property owners a chance to amend their properties in order to comply with by-laws.
The management of development planning recently resolved to enforce outstanding 54 court orders, 28 of which were demolition orders.
Illegally built structures have been a problem in areas like Cyrildene, Bez Valley, Malvern and Kensington for several years.
Stakeholder manager of development planning Poppy Louw said this is the starting point as more structures will be demolished.
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“The illegal structure built at the front of the business property in Derrick Ave was demolished on August 31.
“The property owner was ordered by the South Gauteng High Court on April 7, 2009, to demolish the illegal structure,” explained Louw.
The EXPRESS asked why has it has taken this long to address the issue because residents and councillors have been reporting the lawbreakers.
“The City of Johannesburg is not only taking action now. The law enforcement units in our building development management and land use development management directorates conduct regular law enforcement operations throughout the year, at construction and development sites, and properties with applications to make additions.
“Properties and sites that have been reported to be conducting illegal building or illegal land use when a contravention is found, then the owner of the property is served with a contravention notice, and various efforts are made for the owners to comply to the city’s regulations and bylaws.
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“This process takes some time and there are costs and time involved in taking all individual cases to court,” explained Louw.
She said by enforcing the demolition orders the city is bringing back the rule of law.
“The mandate of Operation BuyaMthetho is to bring back the rule of law in Johannesburg. Through this operation, the city has managed to crack down on numerous criminal activities and illegalities that have taken place.
“We believe that it will continue to yield positive results and positively contribute towards the improvement of the city,” said Louw.
She warned property owners who are building or planning illegal buildings, that there will be consequences.
“If we find that you are illegally building, a contravention notice will be issued. The property owner will be given between 21 and 28 days to cease all illegal building, and/or illegal land use activity, respectively. If it is a building construction contravention, and there is no compliance, a letter of demand (LOD) is issued for the property owner to comply within 14 days. A rates and taxes penalty tariff is imposed after 14 days that the LOD is issued. If contravention persists, the matter is referred to the city’s prosecutors for the case to be prosecuted at the Municipal Court. When there is no compliance in land use-related matters, the matter is referred to the attorneys for further legal action, and a rates penalty is imposed,” explained Louw.
She said that residents also have a role to play in addressing the illegal building issues by reporting those who break the law.
“We all have a role to play in turning Johannesburg around and making it work. As much as we are accountable to residents by delivering efficient and quality services, residents, developers and other stakeholders alike have a responsibility of abiding by our laws.
“Illegal building and land use not only affect property owners around your area; they have a significant effect on the city’s infrastructure.
“We appeal to all residents, developers and stakeholders to refrain from illegal activities and play their part in bringing Johannesburg back to its former glory,” said Louw.
MMC for Development Planning, Reuben Masango, warned residents, developers and other stakeholders against building structures without the approval of the city.
“Our by-laws are there for a reason, and we all need to adhere to them in order to contribute to the progression of Johannesburg, its economy and its people.”
Residents who wish to report illegal building can visit the building development management directorate office on the 6th floor of the Metro Centre on 158 Loveday Street, Braamfontein.
Illegal land uses can be reported to the planning law enforcement unit of the land use development management directorate, Roweena Chetty RoweenaC@joburg.org.za