The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE Bulawayo City Council has upped its efforts of identifying and giving notices to demolish illegal structures in the city with the latest identified properties also including one that was built by a councillor in Selbourne Park.
Over the last three months the local authority has been giving notices to all property owners with construction without approved plans and building inspections, with the figure now reaching 98 inclusive of 16 churches.
The majority of the illegal structures were notably in the high density suburbs. However, in the latest list of 18 properties the local authority have taken their blitz to the low density suburbs with 17 of the properties being in Selbourne Park and one in Hillcrest.
The local authority has since issued them with 21-day notices for appropriate measures to be taken or face demolition. The list also includes a property owned by Ward 14 Councillor, MacDonald Chunga in Selbourne Park.
“The Director of Housing and Community Services (Mr Dictor Khumalo) reported that in terms of the model building by-laws (1977), no construction should be done without approved plans and requisite inspections by council. As such the developments should be regularised if they met all council by-laws and policies subject to relevant penalties paid. If they could not comply, then the development had to be removed accordingly.
“The department carried routine inspections around the city. Appropriate 21 days notices had been issued. If no corrective action was taken penalties would be charged and where appropriate demolishing procedures instituted,” reads part of a council report.
Last month, councillors expressed concern that the illegal structures also included a significant number of churches noting that this was a worrying trend especially when the church is supposed to be preaching legality.
“We shouldn’t even be considering giving them a 21-day notice, we should be descending hard on these churches because how honestly do they build an illegal structure when we all trust them as the custodians of honesty,” said Alderman Monica Lubimbi.
A couple of months ago the local authority condemned 51 buildings in the Central Business District which are in a poor state and considered abandoned, dilapidated or derelict. They further identified 16 churches in the city that constructed illegal structures.
The local authority recently reported that 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 local authority 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.