NDLAMBE municipality could be in trouble with respect to what it states is an illegal installation of a conservancy tank, placed at the foot of a private property on Mentone Road in 2006.
Don Dennison, the owner of the property in question, 49 Mentone Road, has been battling to get the tank removed from the foot of his property for the last six years. He claims it is a potential health hazard to both his family and the environment, and has prevented him from selling his home.
He further contends the tank, which services the Riverview Waterfront Estate, was installed without his permission.
At a special open Ndlambe council meeting on Monday, Ward 10 councillor Ross Purdon warned the municipality it may be faced with legal action whether it removed the tank or not.
“If we do not remove the tank, as per several council recommendations, the Dennison’s could sue. Still, if we do we face a potential battle with the developer. This matter has given me nightmares,” said Purdon.
A letter dated February 25, 2008 from the Ndlambe infrastructural development directorate, signed by building control officer Shaheed Burton, confirms the municipality never authorised the installation of the tank. The letter further states the tank should be removed and whoever was responsible for its installation pay all associated costs.
However, in an affidavit, written retrospectively in 2008, the infrastructural development director at the time the installation took place, Bill Patterson, stated he gave permission for the developer of Riverview Waterfront Estate, Justin de Wet Steyn, to install a temporary tank at the kerb of 49 Mentone Road.
This decision was based on the understanding that Menscott Properties, the developers of the Port Alfred Country Club, would install a water-borne sewage line to service the northern portion of Port Alfred’s West Bank in exchange for erf 1864 Muller Drive.
However, the provincial department of environmental affairs forbade the planned development of erf 1864 due to the sensitivity of the area and, as a consequence, the installation of the mains sewage line never took place.
The temporary conservancy tank has therefore become a permanent installation, despite many meetings with, multitudinous correspondence from, and formal recommendations by the municipality confirming the tank should be removed.
In a Ward 7 (now Ward 10) meeting held in September 2010, former councillor Louise Swanepoel agreed the tank needed to be moved, but said it could not be put in the estate as vacuum tankers (honey-suckers) could not get through the gates to empty the tank.
“It’s not Justin’s fault the development of the sewerage didn’t happen,” Swanepoel said at the time, adding the best option appeared to be to move the tank closer to the estate.
At Monday’s meeting councillor Skumbuzo Venene pointed out there were many inconsistencies regarding the matter that still needed to be resolved.
“We need a proper investigation into this matter,” said Venene. “There are too many contradictions in what people have stated. We need to get this matter resolved.”
Councillor and leader of the ANC caucus, Charles Metelerkamp, said the ANC had made a decision that De Wet Steyn must be made to fix the problem, though infrastructural development director, Xolani Masiza, recommended the municipality seek a legal opinion before proceeding further.
“I sympathise with the Dennisons, but we need an informed decision before we take action. We can then bring this back to council for a final recommendation,” he said.
Mayor Sipho Tandani agreed a legal opinion should be sought, but added the matter must be resolved by the next council meeting as it had already gone on for far too long.