Mayor promises crackdown

Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo (centre) and Exco member Sphamandla Khumalo walk about in Timber Street where city officials discovered many buildings had been illegally extended.
Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo (centre) and Exco member Sphamandla Khumalo walk about in Timber Street where city officials discovered many buildings had been illegally extended.
Sabelo Nsele

Msunduzi Municipality has vowed to bring in the bulldozers to flatten all illegal buildings in the city, as it launches a crackdown on filth and decay.

These include brothels and illegal taverns that are openly operating in the CBD.

The city said on Friday it will be going after all buildings that have been neglected by the owners and that these will either be closed down, demolished or taken over by the municipality.

This emerged when the city launched a clean-up campaign in the “City of Choice” aimed at addressing recent complaints by the public and businesses over litter, whoonga addicts, high crime and general “inner city decay”.

A team led by Mayor Themba Njilo and acting city manager Dr Ray Ngcobo on Friday inspected buildings in Langalibalele and Timber streets that have been illegally extended to accommodate spaza shops and salons.

The delegation described these buildings as an “accident waiting to happen”.

The illegally erected structures were still in use at the time of the delegation’s visit as salons and spaza shops.

Most had obvious illegal electricity connections and live wires could be seen lying around.

On Friday the city gave a “final warning” to the occupants of these shops, saying they will bulldoze the structures when the team next returns.

In some instances illegal structures were blocking fire engine access points.

In one building, an illegally erected structure had blocked access to an electricity meter and main switch.

“Next time we come here, we will demolish all of these structures,” warned Njilo.

He said the city would also be demolishing some buildings that have been neglected by their owners.

“The city has a demolition order from court for all those problematic buildings [that are] illegally occupied and neglected by owners.

“Many buildings have become brothels, where crime is rife.

“They are places being occupied for dodgy business activities, including liquor stores in areas near important city structures like the Legislature.

“This is a result of lack of buildings by-laws enforcement.

“In turn these areas have become health hazards and contribute to increased criminal activities,” said Njilo.

“The CBD local area plan will be developed to profile all buildings with absent owners and landlords and such buildings will be closed down, demolished or taken over by municipality or even charged.

“These buildings are overcrowded and neglected in terms of maintenance,” he said.

Njilo added that rates were not being paid, resulting in the termination of services like garbage collection, and unpaid bills that resulted in electricity theft, which puts people’s lives in danger.

The mayor said the city will also be closing down the East Street old beer hall next to the hostel to extend the taxi rank.

It previously closed the eMatsheni beer hall in Retief street.

The city was coy about how it would deal with another possible influx of vagrants, saying the city “has a plan” for how it will deal with the vagrants.

Njilo said there would be more law enforcement in future in town.

“The lack of by-law enforcement has contributed in the emerging of many informal street traders, vagrants occupying the city, which has created filth and adversely affected business and tourism industries.”

The municipal manager had met with all the peace officers to encourage them to be more visible and efficient.

More engagements of that nature will be done to ensure that the city’s peace officers work together.

Msunduzi Municipality would also address waste management issues, for example by installing more rubbish bins in the CBD.

“The shift system is being revived in order for it to function optimally, as the assessment revealed that our staff are knocking off at peak times, which creates an impression that the city is not being cleaned.

“We will accordingly ensure the city is kept clean at all times and also improve efficiency of staff members as well as tools of trade,” he said.

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