Ratepayers angry over snub by city

2014-02-04 00:00

“RATEPAYERS: Are We Really That Important?” — that’s the question being asked on the Save Our Berea Facebook page after two members of the campaign’s working committee were snubbed by a city official.

Last Friday, Kevin Dunkley and Cheryl Johnson had an appointment to meet senior manager in the city’s Land Use Management Branch, Lekha Allopi to discuss Berea residents’ concerns around the new building at 340 Essenwood Road.

Following considerable e-mail correspondence between the Save Our Berea campaign and Allopi over alleged transgressions of the city’s planning and building by-laws in the construction of the building, Allopi suggested there be a face-to-face meeting between herself and representatives of the campaign’s working committee.

Allopi advised Dunkley to contact her personal assistant Sthembile Khumalo to arrange a meeting.

“This we duly did and were informed that we could meet Ms Allopi at 12.30 [pm] on Friday, January 31,” says Dunkley in the Facebook post.

Dunkley and fellow committee member Johnson arrived at the appointed time to be told that Allopi had gone to a meeting in Assagay and “would only be back, at the earliest after 2.00 [pm]”.

Dunkley says that the appointment was written down in Allopi’s diary along with his contact number.

Yesterday, Allopi told The Witness that she doesn’t have scheduled appointments on a Friday and that she was attending a meeting with the provincial planning authority.

When Allopi was advised that the meeting was reportedly in her diary she said she would check her diary and respond later. Her assistant Khumalo subsequently contacted The Witness and instructed that questions regarding the matter be submitted by e-mail. This was done but no response had been received by the time of going to press.

Yesterday morning, Dunkley also sent an e-mail to Allopi detailing what had happened but by yesterday afternoon had not received a response. “I would have thought we’d have heard something by now,” Dunkley said.

Dunkley said it was standard practice that a secretary would talk to an executive at the beginning of the day and discuss what was on the diary for the day ahead.

Dunkley also queried why an appointment was made for a Friday if Allopi did not schedule appointments for that day. In the Facebook post Dunkley said that Allopi’s failure to be present for the meeting was “a snub to every ratepayer in Durban. It sends a message that, yes, we will take your rates, and we will spend your money, but don’t dare complain because we don’t actually care.

“We are not a radical group marching on the City Hall. At our Monster Meeting [in November] we were given a clear mandate to offer our assistance to the city in enforcing by-laws. These by-laws … are the by-laws of the people. They are the by-laws of the mayor, the city manager, every councillor regardless of political persuasion, every city official and every ratepayer.

“Yet we are treated with utter contempt.”

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