Res­i­dents take on Singh­linked de­vel­oper

Weekend Witness - - News - MHLABUNZIMA MEMELA

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 rent­tobuy 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, KwaZulu­Natal, 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 mu­nic­i­pal­owned prop­erty to a pri­vate en­tity.

Woodglaze bought the sites from the city in 2003 to build houses for low­in­come 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 Mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Thabo Mo­fo­keng said the city’s le­gal team is busy com­pil­ing pa­pers, as they are se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion to com­pletely de­mol­ish the ill­fated Ton­gaat mall. 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.

PHOTO: KHAYA NG­WENYA

Mem­bers of the Phoenix Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion at the Dur­ban high court yes­ter­day, where they brought an ap­pli­ca­tion for a re­view of the land sold to pri­vate de­vel­oper Woodglaze Trad­ing.

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