Madonsela: Owners of hijacked building lost everything

2014-12-18 15:12

The City of Johannesburg must consider buying a building after it failed to terminate services to the “hijacked” building and take disciplinary steps against a former councillor who admitted to encouraging the illegal occupation, says Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela released four investigative reports in Pretoria today among them one titled “Broken Promises” about the City reneging on numerous promises to help the owners of the “hijacked” building in Jeppestown evict its illegal occupants.

Madonsela has requested Joburg mayor Parks Tau to approach the city council to consider buying the building from the owners.

Madonsela was scathing in her findings against the City and found that the council’s improper actions to bill the owners of the building for services even though the building was illegally occupied constituted maladministration.

Her investigation follows a complaint by Tshepo and Phindi Kgaudi who bought the building in 2008 and despite promising the Kgaudis that it would cut off electricity in 2009, the City instead billed the owners.

The illegal occupants ran businesses from the premises and were tenants of the previous owner.

Madonsela said the City also failed to rein in one of its councillors, who admitted during the investigation of encouraging the illegal occupation allegedly for votes.

She said the Kgaudis lost almost everything during their battle to use the building and were almost evicted from their own home due to the services the City charged them for the building.

Madosnela said the Kgaudis have suffered financially and emotionally due to the many broken promises by the City to cut off power and force illegal occupants out of the building.

In 2011 the Kgaudis began eviction processes but just before the raid to evict the illegal occupants took place a local councillor known as Zwane threatened the Kgaudis who said the raid must not proceed.

“Today the Kgaudis have lost everything and their home is in the process of being sold in execution of a court order while the two buildings remain unavailable for use due to illegal occupation.

“It is undeniable that before purchasing the buildings the Kgaudis were successful business people who owned a multiple branch business of shoes manufactured in Brazil. It is also undeniable that their business started falling apart when the two buildings purchased with a view to domesticate the shoe-making process, could not be used for the purposes which they were purchased,” said Madonsela.

She said the City did not deny any of the allegations of maladministration including failure to terminate services, wrongfully billing the complainants for the unauthorised consumption and failure to reverse the wrongful billing.

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