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City gets court order to close down unlawful car dealership

by City of Cape Town
on 23 Mar 2011
City of Cape Town
City of Cape Town

A well-known second-hand car dealership in Lansdowne has shut down after being ordered by the Cape High Court to cease trading or face eviction.

"O&J Car Sales in Turfhall Road had been operating unlawfully for at least 11 years in contravention of zoning rights," says Cheryl Walters, Director of Planning and Building Management Development at the City of Cape Town.

The illegal operation, at the time of launching the court application was taking place on five erven. Four of the erven were zoned 'single dwelling residential', while the fifth was zoned 'special business' limited to a service station.

A petition had been submitted by long-suffering neighbours and residents who were forced at all hours to endure the noise of cars hooting and revving and loudspeaker announcements; safety risks posed by speeding and vehicle testing; as well as traffic congestion.

"This court order granted against all ten respondents , including the owners of the relevant properties and O&J Car sales itself, is the culmination of persistent attempts by the City of Cape Town since 2001 to close down this illegal operation," says Ms Walters.

"The first time Council served notices on the owners to rectify the illegal use in 2001, an application was submitted to rezone one of the properties (erf 39273) from 'single dwelling residential' to 'general business'. This was subsequently amended to 'special business purpose'," says Ms Walters.

After this rezoning application was refused on appeal by the Provincial Government in 2004, the illegal business continued to operate, and it was claimed that the relevant parties were 'unaware of the decision' by Province.

In 2007, the owners of erf 39273 and a representative of O&J car sales, the first three respondents in the civil interdict case, were summonsed to appear in court on a charge of contravening the zoning scheme regulations. In 2008, a plea and sentence agreement was entered into wherein the first three respondents pleaded guilty and were sentenced to a fine of R30 000, of which R25 000 was suspended on condition that they did not contravene land use regulations.

In March 2008, they launched a High Court review application to overturn the Provincial decision to refuse the rezoning. A week before the hearing in February 2010, the court application was withdrawn and the City's legal costs in the amount of R 120 000.00 were paid.

The business nevertheless continued operating from the five properties and the City decided in August 2010 to launch interdict proceedings against the owners of the five erven and O&J Car Sales. Some filed a notice to oppose the application but did not file papers. A court interdict was finally granted to ban O&J Car Sales from operating on the properties and to ban the relevant property owners from allowing the illegal business to operate as from 31 January 2011.

On 1 February this year, the criminal prosecution was re-instituted and the first three respondents paid admission of guilt fines of R5 000 each. The application to have the suspended sentence imposed will be heard at the end of the month.

"We wish to emphasize the fact that if a person contravenes the law, it can be very expensive and time-consuming. Council will also use a variety of remedies to enforce compliance with the zoning scheme, ôsays Ms Walters.



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