Residents take on Singh-linked developer

2013-11-23 00:00

MEMBERS of the Phoenix Tenants’ and Residents’ Association have vowed to remain in their homes developed by the company linked to the controversial businessman Jay Singh’s family.

Residents took the eThekwini Municipality to the Durban High Court yesterday to review the decision to sell the land to private developer Wood­glaze Trading. The company is linked to Rectangle Property Investments, which developed the shopping mall which partially collapsed in Tongaat, north of Durban, killing a woman and injuring 29 people, on Tuesday.

Singh, who is not listed as an owner or director of the company, has allegedly been playing an oversight role at other housing developments by the company, listing his wife Shireen Annamalay as the major shareholder.

Residents launched an application in the high court yesterday to force the municipality to reverse its decision to sell the land to Woodglaze.

Residents allege they had a rent-to-buy agreement, which was never honoured, and according to the residents’ lawyer, so far 80 to 100 forced removals had taken place at the complex.

The matter was heard before acting Judge Peter Rowan after the legal team spent a few minutes in court chambers.

Rowan postponed the matter to next Friday after the municipality undertook to hand over records related to the selling of the land to Woodglaze by the end of Thursday.

All nine listed respondents have to collect the records from the municipality to prepare their responding affidavits during the course of the week.

Respondents include the provincial Human Settlements and Public Works MEC Ravi Pallay, Woodglaze, the registrar of deeds, KwaZulu-Natal, and other developers involved in the construction or the land acquisition.

According to the court papers filed yesterday, residents want a review of certain decisions and/or administrative actions of the city and all involving the letting and sale of municipal-owned property to a private entity.

Woodglaze bought the sites from the city in 2003 to build houses for low-income earners.

A few months ago the company tried to evict tenants from flats after they refused to pay rent. Residents claimed that the developers had made verbal promises that they would eventually own the rented homes, but this has not yet materialised — instead, the units were falling apart, residents claim.

The company constructed 2 500 houses and many cracks indicate the shoddy construction work.

The court gallery was packed with residents while others stood outside waiting for the outcome. They said they want the judge to force eThekwini to take back the land where their rented homes are built.

Over the months the company has faced many marches, petitions and court applications as a result of the shoddy workmanship.

The counsel for the tenants, Ramesh Luckychand, said they plan to file another application to stop Woodglaze’s attempts to evict residents until the matter is resolved.

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