Buildings crumble in CBD clamp-down

A municpal bulldozer demolishes an illegal building on West Street.

Dramatic scenes unfolded in the CBD on Tuesday as bulldozers moved through the streets demolishing buildings housing illegal tenants and businesses operating without permits.
Illegal structures such as street vendor stalls and pop-up barber shops were torn down by municipal units that included security and sustainable development members. The units barricaded West and Pietermaritz streets as three buildings occupied by foreign nationals operating businesses without permits crumbled to the ground.
General Manager for Sustainable Development and City Enterprises, Radha Gounden, who was at the scene, said the operation was the fourth part of an on-going campaign to clean-up the city. “This is a part of an enforcement exercise that has been implemented for the past few months,” said Gounden. He said eviction notices were handed in advance to those owning and occupying non-compliant structures and businesses. “In conjunction with Cogta, eviction notices were handed out notifying the occupants that they have not complied with the city by-laws,” said Gounden. Other stops included a raid on Pietermaritz and Hoosen Haffejee streets that yielded over 20 arrests. Units seized R160 000 in cash that was wrapped in black plastic bags and a towel, 1 200 unregistered SIM cards, and a box of counterfeit cigarettes. A laptop bag containing R40 000 was confiscated from a shop owner who was in possession of counterfeit alcohol. Home Affairs and South African Revenue Services members accompanied the police and apprehended 25 foreign nationals who were without legal documentation, confirmed Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese. Other bystanders on the scene said they were relieved the City had taken a stance in cleaning up the CBD and encouraged more initiatives. “It is about time; there are so many other places that need attending to. Masukwana and parts of Church Street need urgent maintenance,” said the bystander. Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness welcomed the clean-up. “The PCB is pleased to see that some action is being taken by the city to enact the by-laws to manage illegal trade in the city centre. Illegal trade has an extremely negative impact on established, legal rate- paying businesses and we hope that there will be a continued and sustained effort to manage this problem,” said Veness. Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Themba Njilo said the city had been working tirelessly to implement strategic clean-up campaigns and urged citizens not to lose faith in the city’s aim for better service delivery.

  AUTHOR
Bongeka Sibisi
Journalist

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