Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
UNSCRUPULOUS individuals have reportedly been moving into unoccupied stands at Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle section, constructing houses which they then sell to unsuspecting desperate home seekers.
To further worsen the plight of the bona fide owners of the stands, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has said, in such instances they do not penalise the unscrupulous contractors for the illegal structures but instead charge all penalties to the legitimate owners.
According to the latest council report, the bogus developers target stands that have been abandoned by owners and gone for years without any development taking place. Some of the bogus developers have even constructed seven-roomed houses within those stands with the local authority saying the bona fide owners could only seek recourse by reporting the matter to the police and going further to foot the demolition costs, failure to which they would be subjected to all the laid down penalties from BCC according to the by-laws.
“There had been instances in the city and particularly Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai where unscrupulous individuals enter and build on allocated vacant stands.
“The developments were quickly built without approved plans and inspections. Furthermore those stands where the owner claims not to have built the structure, the bona fide owner reports to the police and removes the structure without the involvement of Council.
“Failure to remove or regularise the structure the owner would be subject to heavy penalties in terms of Council policy and by-laws,” reads the council report.
So far the local authority has identified 33 properties in the suburb whose structures were illegally constructed with the local authority already having served 17 of these with notices.
“Any identified non-compliant building; the owner was given a notice to address the non-compliance through regularisation but a heavy penalty was imposed.
“If still not rectified and the matter a final notice was given leading to a request for demolishing authority from Council and then the courts if no remedy was done.
“Where there was great public danger, council could rectify at the expense of the property owner. The Department demanded the approved plans in terms of the by-laws. If they were not produced and regularisation would not be done, steps as described above could be taken.
“However, the owners of such stands were encouraged to report to the police as such matters were not double allocations. They were also encouraged to look after their stands as was not the duty of council to do so,” reads the report.
In June, Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde July Moyo ordered BCC to deal with individuals that abandon their houses, renting them out while neglecting to pay rates and rentals in Cowdray Park. Minister Moyo questioned why the local authority continued entertaining the issue of absent landlords if it was going on to affect service delivery to the area.
“It is simple, if council sells a house to Mguni and Mguni decides to rent it out to ZBC with ZBC going on to having a negative effect on service delivery like abusing water or not paying rates then the solution is easy, council should just repossess the property,” the Minister is quoted as saying.