Residents red-flag Sunnyside ‘land grab’

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A high fence bisects the sidewalk at the south end of Hill Street and residents have questioned how it was allowed. Photos: Sue Maclennan

A storm has been brewing in Sunnyside over a resident who has effectively extended his property by building a high mesh fence that bisects the sidewalk above his house and allegedly encloses sewage, stormwater, electricity and telephone infrastructure. There is a padlocked access gate, but it’s not clear who besides the owner has the key.

While residents say the fence at the south end of Hill Street is a hazard and have asked how the municipality can condone it, the owner says he was given permission.

Outrage on social media this week saw one resident posting, “What has happened to my street … there are no pavements anymore and everyone walks in the road… now there is this new fence that is stealing land from the municipality and also takes away the pavement for safety. This is problematic and the owner must account for this. It is dangerous!!!”

Another replied, “A number of us residents in the area are concerned about the hazard this seemingly illegal fence poses to pedestrians and road users alike.”

Grocott’s Mail observed that the area is busy in the early morning and late afternoon, when parents fetch their children from a nearby crèche. Pedestrians walked in the road alongside the fence.

Makana Municipality yesterday confirmed they had received a number of complaints and queries.

Spokesperson Yoliswa Ramokolo said municipal officials had been to the premises to assess the situation and had delivered a letter of demand to remove the fence, in preparation for an interdict. The owner, however, had shown them a letter purportedly signed by a senior official, whom he claimed had given permission for the encroachment. The official, whose identity is known to Grocott’s Mail, was not currently available to confirm this.

Ramokolo said a written application is required to encroach on public land. This is sent for comment to various managers including traffic, stormwater and roads and electricity. After comments from all these departments it should also go to the Aesthetic Committee, then the Mayoral Committee before going to full Council for approval. It was not clear whether this had been done.

“We are following up on this matter and will inform the public once the town planner, building inspector and legal manager have met with the new municipal manager,” Ramokolo said.

Grocott’s Mail’s invitations by email and social media to comment were not responded to by the property owner.

The fence encloses municipal infrastructure.

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