Alleged ‘illegal building’ owner replies

2015-06-24 06:00

THE owner of the alleged illegal building at 23 Wanda Cele Road, Deepak Bhardwaj, says he is “the victim of municipality bias”. “My question to the municipality is - a house was built opposite the road from me on the road reserve, while I was running my hardware store and before I acquired the property next door. Where was the municipality when this house was built and why are they not filing with the High Court to demolish that house?” Bhardwaj said.

“The municipality is biased and racist. Because my skin is not black enough I am being discriminated against. If he is building on the road reserve, he is illegal,” said Bhardwaj.

He said an appeal lodged with the KZN Planning and Development Appeal Tribunal against the rezoning of his property to limited commercial is illegitimate. “According to a judgment set n another case 9645/14 between the KZN Planning and Development Appeal Tribunal in the High Court it was found that according to Section 45 of the KwaZulu-Natal Planning and Development Act, 2008 the appeal has been declared unconstitutional to the extent that it constitutes interference by the province in municipal planning decisions by providing for an appeal from a municipal decision to an appellate body, namely the KwaZulu Natal Planning and Development Appeal Tribunal, created by provisions 10 of the Act.”

Bhardwaj said the tribunal therefore does not have the power to issue a demolition order. “The municipality knows the tribunal does not have the power, yet they are pursuing it. I also would like to know from the building inspector, how many people has he taken to the High Court before me?

“I am running three hardware shops in the area and I am creating jobs, I pay my taxes. I do not want to break the law. If that was the case I would not have attempted to have my building plans approved.”

Livingston Leandy Attorneys commented on behalf of eThekwini Municipality.

“Mr Bhardwaj has filed two sets of affidavits and in none of the affidavits does he raise racism. It is unfortunate that Mr. Bhardwaj has sought to raise this issue in the newspaper when he had every opportunity of doing so on oath, which would have given the municipality an opportunity to properly deal with this unfounded allegation. The eThekwini Municipality denies the allegation of racism.

“On the issue of the building that occurred across the road from Mr. Bhardwaj’s property, the municipality has responded to this complaint in its affidavit. The property in question is owned by the Ingonyama Trust and the property accordingly falls outside the ambit of the applicable Town Planning Scheme. The development on the property is not regulated by the Scheme, which is not dependent on a decision of any municipal official, but is dictated to by the national legislative regime which is currently applicable. Furthermore, the Ingonyama Trust, which our courts have held to be an organ of state, is also exempt from complying with the requirements of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, save for lodging plans for information and comment only. The eThekwini Municipality is merely enforcing the laws that in terms of our Constitution it is obliged to administer and cannot extend its mandate beyond that.”

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