City of Cape Town hits apartment building developer with R1m fine

11th June 2024 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

City of Cape Town hits apartment building developer with R1m fine

Geordin Hill-Lewis

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has upheld a decision by the city’s Municipal Planning Tribunal to impose a record R1-million penalty for unauthorised construction work in Belville.

The penalty relates to a developer, named as Steven Kampies, constructing a 22-unit apartment building where only a single dwelling is permitted.

"In upholding this record penalty, we send a clear message that in Cape Town we are working to build a society based on the rule of law, and that the flagrant disregard of building and planning regulations cannot be tolerated,” says Hill-Lewis.

“The law is not only for some, it is for all.”

The building, which includes two storeys of apartments, covered parking and a refuse room, is located in the Oakdale suburb in Bellville.

The site is currently zoned for Single Residential 1 (SR1), which permits only a single residence and related buildings covering not more than 50% of the site.

The City of Cape Town says it ordered a stop to construction in September 2022. However, the developer continued building, while also taking in tenants.

“Occupation of such a building poses a safety risk to tenants without the necessary safety and building plan approvals, land-use rights, and occupation certification."

Following a letter of demand by the city’s lawyers in December 2022, the developer agreed to vacate all the tenants, but by March 2023 “it was clear there was no serious intention in this regard”.

The city then approached the High Court in May, 2023, obtaining an order in October to declare the building and its occupation unlawful.

Given the non-compliance and scope of unauthorised building work, the Municipal Planning Tribunal handed down a R1-million penalty.

The developer’s appeal was considered by the Planning Appeals Advisory Panel, with Hill-Lewis accepting the panel’s recommendation to uphold the penalty amount in his capacity as final appeal authority.

In his appeal outcome report, Hill-Lewis stated that he was satisfied that the administrative penalty was reasonable, given the “gravity and extent” of the contravention.

Further to that, the city notes that the developer could not reasonably claim to have been ill-advised by professionals, given that it had committed similar contraventions in 2021 relating to the construction of 14 apartments at two different erven elsewhere in Bellville.

With the appeal dismissal outcome issued at the end of May, the developer has 20 calendar days to pay the penalty as per the High Court order obtained by the city.

The developer must also comply with all lawful processes regarding the unauthorised building under the city’s Development Management Scheme.

Should the criteria “to regularise the building work” not be met, it may result in the city approaching the court for a demolition order.