Building manager ‘humiliated’

2011-06-28 00:00

THE building manager in charge of the Bayat building in Pietermaritzburg has accused members of the so-called “Pitbull team”, whose job is to put a stop to unlawful consumption of electricity in the Msunduzi municipality, of publicly humiliating him.

He also alleges that they acted unlawfully by breaking a lock to gain entry to a meter room in the building recently.

Sadick Ismail said in an affdividat before the high court in Pietermaritzburg that he has instructed his legal representatives to investigate the merits of instituting a civil action for defamation of character against those responsible.

The alleged actions of the “Pit-bull team” took place on May 30 when the officials disconnected the electricity supply to the building, affecting tenants who are renting premises in the building.

These included shops, a funeral parlour and a “cold room”, which was used as a morque to store corpses. There is also a flat in which a family of five people, including three children, live.

In terms of an urgent court order obtained on June 6 by Ismail, Msunduzi municpality was ordered to restore electricity to the building as an interim measure pending finalisation of the dispute.

The case was yesterday postponed to August 1 pending the municipality’s reply to the application.

In his affadavit, Ismail said as manager of the building situated in Masukwana street, he is responsible for all the day to day maintenance, and the electricity account is in his name.

He said he has a good credit record with the munipality and is never late with electricity payments.

It was therefore a “surprise” when he was told that the “Pitbull team” was at the building on May 30 and required keys to the meter room.

Ismail said he keeps the room locked in order to prevent any tampering with the meter.

He instructed an assistant, Ayoob Khan, to take the keys and open the room for the officials.

However, he was later informed that when Khan got there, he discovered that the officials had already broken the lock and gained entry.

Ismail alleged that when he got to the scene he was informed by “certain officials” that they had “discovered exactly how the building had been stealing electricity” from Msunduzi.

“This statement was made loudly enough for the crowd to hear,” he said.

Ismail said he was angry, humiliated and embarrassed by the public accusation.

He also said to his knowledge “not even the police” are allowed to forcibly enter private property without the neccessary authority, as these officials did.

He said the disconnection of the electricity supply greatly inconvenienced the businesses and tenants in the building.

As the manager he personally had to suffer the public accusation that he was involved in theft of electricity and said he also anticipated that some of the tenants, who suffered financial losses as a result of the electicity being disconnected, may want to recover money from him.

Ismail said another concern was that his employer believed he was responsible for what happened.

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