The battle of Lonehill mall

Posted On Monday, 30 April 2007 02:00 Published by
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The developers of the Lonehill Shopping Mall have been building without council approval
29 April 2007

By Dumisane Lubisi and Amukelani Chauke

Judge warns two rich property developers that they will go to jail if they continue building

Irate Lonehill residents said the judgment was lenient

A Joburg High Court judge has threatened to throw two wealthy property developers in jail if they continue to build on the Lonehill Shopping Mall without council permission.

Brothers Antonys and Dimitrys Theodosiou and their company, Immobili Retail Investments, were slapped with a suspended sentence and a R20,000 fine for ignoring two court interdicts ordering them to stop extending the mall.

The court orders, handed down in December and January , were granted in favour of the City of Joburg after building inspectors discovered the brothers had made additions to the Lonehill Mall without council approval.

On Tuesday, Judge Ivor Schwartzman handed the brothers a three-month suspended sentence and said they would go to jail if they did not "immediately cease" construction at the mall or if they began any new building projects there.

Irate Lonehill residents said the judgment was "lenient".

"That fine is nothing to them, they make that kind of money in 15 minutes," said one who asked not to be named.

Court documents show that council lawyers asked for a R1- million fine and a six-month jail term for the two men.

Residents have complained to the council since construction on the mall began in 2004, saying it was too noisy, built too high, and was devaluing their properties.

The Theodosiou brothers, who own management rights to the Kyalami race track, have been in and out of court on different matters for years.

One case, over a prime piece of beachfront land in Cape Town's suburb of Clifton, dragged on for 10 years.

The brothers' lawyer, Nicqui Galaktiou, said they would apply for leave to appeal the mall matter . She said the interdict granted to the council in December was also being appealed.

Council spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said the city was "very happy with the judgment as it puts a stop to illegal building in the area".

The council told the court that the section of the mall under construction, which was intended to house a gym, had not been approved and the building was illegal.

In December, the court granted the council an order to "interdict and restrain" the brothers from any further building without council approval.

Council inspectors visited the mall again in January and found that building had restarted, so the authorities brought an urgent application to halt construction and the court handed down another order to stop it.

Then in March, Pierre le Roux, the council's chief building inspector, went to the mall and discovered that building had started again.

"I observed numerous construction workers, certain concrete mixers disgorging concrete, that tiling was occurring and that a variety of building operations were taking place," he said in court papers.

Another inspector, Martinus Britz, went there the following day and said in papers that a construction manager told him Antonys Theodosiou had instructed them to start building again.

The council then brought a contempt of court application that was heard two weeks ago and the brothers were found guilty of the charge and sentenced this week.

But the Theodosiou brothers argued that the gym had formed part of the shopping centre since 2001 and plans for it had been approved by council.

They said what the building inspectors saw was not building work for which approved plans were required - merely work to meet the specifications of the gym's operators.

But Judge Schwartzman said he was satisfied that council had proved that the fourth phase of the shopping mall's plans had not been approved, and that the brothers and their company "are accordingly in contempt of the court orders".

Sunday Times

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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