Neighbours call for property developer to be jailed

Neighbours call for property developer to be jailed

Durban's Montpelier Road 'illegal' building saga will be back in court this morning with neighbours asking that the developers be jailed for contempt of court for ignoring an interdict granted last year stopping construction.

'Utterly contemptuous', is how neighbours of the almost completed block of flats in Morningside have described the conduct of the trust that owns the building, arguing that the only appropriate punishment for the trustees is three months behind bars or a R50 000 fine each.

It will be the third time the neighbours, including attorneys Shahir Ramdass and Dave McNaught, have been forced to go to the Durban High Court about the development which they label a monstrosity that blocks their view and is not in keeping with the neighbourhood.

In their interdict application last November they said most of the work had been done prior to the city approving plans last September.

They wanted an interdict stopping further work pending a judicial review of the decision to approve the plans.

Judge Rashid Vahed granted the interdict, ordering that the only work that could be done was what was necessary for the structural integrity of the building and public safety.

He also ordered that the city deliver the 'review record' including the approved plans by the end of November.

But this was never done - the city said the plans were copyrighted and it could not hand them over and the developers flatly refusing to do so - and in January the neighbours went back to court.

In his affidavit in today's application, Ramdass accuses the developers of showing complete contempt for the interdict, citing 'at least five fundamental breaches'.

They also refused to allow a land surveyor, hired by the objecting neighbours, on to the site to complete his report.

In his attached report, town planner Kaviraj Soni documents the alleged breaches with photographs. These include the construction of walls, an electricity sub-station, light fittings, internal and external plastering and painting.

In his opinion, the interdict and the national building regulations had been breached.

The Mercury

It is always dangerous to speculate when you only have only heard one side of the dispute.  However, if the Applicant's version is correct, then it is very distressing that the Court Order has no "teeth".

If people can randomly choose to ignore interdicts then they rapidly lose any value. I suppose that the Respondent will alledge that the work done "was necessary for the structural integrity of the building and public safety" and then argument becomes technical.  The work done (according to the article) certainly does not appear to be in preservation of structural integrity.

Gareth Shepperson
Commercial and Property Attorney


Denny Crane

Denny Crane
It's not me ... yet. Denny Crane from the TV series Boston Legal. Click on picture if you're not sure who he is!