eThekwini fails to implement Problem Buildings by-law two years since commencement

Democratic Alliance media statement by Marlaine Nair, CLLR

DA eThekwini Whip for Economic Development and Planning


eThekwini fails to implement Problem Buildings by-law two years since commencement


The Democratic Alliance (DA) in eThekwini is shocked to note that since the promulgation of the Problem Building by-law in March 2016, and the subsequent calls by the DA for its enforcement, the ANC-led eThekwini Municipality has failed dismally to enforce this vital by-law.

The DA is concerned that instead of implementing the by-law, the city has been using iTrump (inner Thekwini Regeneration and Urban Management Programme), which is an ABM (area-based management) department for the inner city, to facilitate and coordinate the Problem Buildings programme with various line departments, namely the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Home Affairs. iTrump is failing miserably in this regard. The ABM which faces massive human resource challenges is mainly focused on the inner city and has therefore, to date, only been able to tackle 7 out of the 45 identified problem buildings outside of the inner city.

Questions posed by the DA at the last council meeting revealed the following:
• There were 95 problem buildings in the inner city and 45 in the wider municipal area;
• Since the commencement of the Problem Building by-law, not a single building of the total 140 buildings identified have been declared problem buildings;
• The city has stated that there is no institutional home for the by-laws;
• To date, no interdicts have been applied for to ban new occupants from entering buildings that have been identified as problem buildings, and no applications for evictions have been made in terms of chapter 4, section 11 of the Problem Buildings by-law; and
• There are a number of problem buildings that belong to eThekwini Municipality.

Of note are the following city-owned Problem Buildings:
• 2 Epson Road, Table Tennis building
• 85 Anton Lembede Street
• 20 Johannes Nkosi Street
• Children’s home behind the Elangeni Hotel
• West End Building on the corner of Joseph Ndluli Street and Dr Pixely Kaseme Street

The DA also notes that there are numerous Problem Buildings belonging to the KZN Provincial Government. The following are Provincial Government-owned Problem Buildings:
• West Point Building: Esplanade
• Palm Beach Hotel: Gillespie Street
• SASSA Building: Esplanade
• Seaman Building: Mahatma Gandhi Street
• Old Ambulance Building: 44 Lancers Road
• SAPS Residential Building: CR Swart Square

Because of the inaction by the City in enforcing the Problem Building by-law, it has failed to hold to account the owners of the 140 Problem buildings, both government- and privately-owned across eThekwini. There is no point in having a by-law if the city is not willing to implement it.

In her 2018 budget speech, Mayor Zandile Gumede expressed how serious the city was about inner city regeneration, ridding the city of crime and grime and vowed that they would not hesitate to “expropriate” bad buildings.

Whilst the Democratic Alliance is in favour of programmes that seek to rid the inner city of crime and grime in order to attract tourists and investors, as well as the tackling of derelict buildings in other parts of the city that present themselves as hideouts for criminals and criminal activity, we believe the City’s current programmes are not equipped to deal with the 140 problem buildings and those that have yet to be identified across eThekwini.

We therefore call on the Mayor to put her words into action. The Municipality has a legal obligation to implement the by-law as the Full Council in which executive and legislative powers are vested in has duly passed it.

The DA calls on the city to take the necessary steps to ensure the successful city-wide implementation of the Problem Buildings by-law.

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