Prof told to knock down R7m mansion

Brian Hayward

TAX expert and Rhodes University Business School professor Matthew Lester has been ordered to demolish his R7-million Kentonon-Sea mansion – or the Ndlambe Municipality will do it for him.

After a mammoth court case spanning almost a decade brought by the municipality against Lester over the “illegal structure”, the Grahamstown High Court yesterday gave Lester 180 days to demolish the sea- facing mansion.

Ndlambe argued the home was built without proper approval while, in separate legal battles, Lester’s neighbours argued the house was too wide, too high and crossed building lines.

The judgment is a boost for neighbour James Haslam, whose sea views were obscured when Lester’s multi-storey mansion was built in the early 2000s.

Judge Sytze Alkema noted that Haslem’s view and privacy had been affected by Lester’s dwelling.

Alkema said the financial loss to Lester as a result of the demolition order would most likely be devastating.

“I do not minimise the financial hardship, discomfort and inconvenience Lester will suffer should a demolition order be granted.

“I accept that he will not easily, if at all, recover from the financial loss it will bring about.”

But Alkema added: “On the other hand, if a demolition order is not ordered, I will condone the continued use of a dwelling found to be unlawfully erected.”

Lester was also ordered to pay the costs of Ndlambe’s application and of his own counterapplication.

Alkema said Lester could apply to the court for more time to undertake the demolition, provided he had good reason.

If Lester – who commutes between Kenton and Rhodes University and Cape Town – wishes to appeal, he must first apply for leave to do so from Alkema.

If successful, he would then have to take his case to the full bench of the Eastern Cape High Court or the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Lester’s Grahamstown attorney, Roy Hart, said the legal team would study the judgment carefully.

“All our options will be considered,” Hart said.

Representing the first applicant, the Ndlambe Municipality, were Murray Lowe SC and Brin Brody.

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