Resident seeks rates relief over squatters

Squatters have hijacked 20 Lochner Road in upmarket Deurdrif.

A Constantia man wants the municipality to reduce his rates account and backdate it to October 2018, when squatters hijacked a neighbouring property.

Alan Rogers, who lives next to 20 Lochner Road in the Deurdrif area of Constantia, hopes the rates reduction he has applied for will set a legal precedent. “To make the City of Cape Town more proactive in cases where problem people move onto private properties or land,” he said (“Land invaders cause havoc”, November 12, 2020).

“If everyone has their rates revaluation the City will feel it in their pockets. The City should go to the Constitutional Court to have sections of the PIE act overturned or reviewed so that the act is only used for its intended purpose,” said Mr Rogers, referring to the Prevention of Illegal Eviction (PIE) Act.

Following a council inspection of the property early this year, suspected electricity meter tampering was confirmed by the City and the property was subsequently cut off (“Delinquent’ occupants of Constantia home in stand-off with authorities,” Bulletin January 28).

This also meant that residents no longer had to contend with car work – spray painters, welders, buffing and sanding. Mr Rogers said between 10 to 15 people live in the property at one time, coming and going, with the odd one pushing a supermarket trolley.

About three weeks ago, he said, the squatters had acquired a generator which was operating for up to six hours each day.

During this time, Mr Rogers has called 107 to complain about the noise and the resultant fumes. He said he had been told that there was a high-court decision pending and that was why the by-laws were not being enforced. “If they are referring to the eviction, this could drag on for months,” he said.

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community service and health, said most generators would likely exceed permissible noise levels unless they were adequately soundproofed. Where a complaint was received, the City would investigate and take action if necessary, he said.

Wayne Hufke, the attorney who represents Quattro Partners, the owner of the property, said the matter was in court again on Tuesday May 25.

“As a result of the pending litigation, the matter is sub judice and it would be inappropriate for us to respond at this stage,” he said.

The case has been postponed numerous times.

Penny Thomson’s property is at the back of 20 Lochner Road. “We do not use our back stoep when the generator is on, due to noise and smell,” she said.

She said she had asked councillor Carol Bew to follow up on the case.

“It is pointless waiting for the high court order, as the occupants are experienced hijackers. They have already shown that they will keep the case going for years,” she said.

Ms Bew did not respond to our questions.

Mr Rogers said law enforcement had been to the house many times, the latest on Friday May 21. He said his domestic worker was asthmatic and was asking him what was being done to stop the generator. “What do I tell her?” he said.

Wayne Dyason, spokesman for the City’s law enforcement department, said they would do a follow-up inspection, investigate the complaint and liaise with the City’s environmental health department to do a decibel reading for possible noise pollution.

Regarding the rates revaluation, the City’s mayoral committee member for finance, Ian Neilson, said they had listed Mr Rogers’s property at R5.6 million and advised him that he could submit an objection (to the present valuation) in late July or early August.

Quattro Partners purchased 20 Lochner for R1.9m in 2018. The 2019 valuation by the City was R4.47m. That is why Mr Rogers has put his property on the revaluation register.

The Bulletin has tried to contact the squatters on numerous occasions, leaving messages and calling from the gate, but they do not want to speak.