Businessman enters the fray in Durban high rise saga

25 August 2020 - 15:30 By TANIA BROUGHTON
A court matter involving an unfinished high rise building in Durban took an interesting turn on Tuesday.
A court matter involving an unfinished high rise building in Durban took an interesting turn on Tuesday.
Image: 123RF/STOCKSTUDIO44

Wealthy Durban businessman Jakes Pandor has applied to intervene in Tuesday’s application to stop the sale of the controversial development at 317 Currie Road, disclosing that he has taken over the claims of creditors totalling more than R117m.

He said the sale of the property is “imperative” to realise any benefit and to finalise the winding up of the developers, Serengeti Rise Industries, who was placed in liquidation last year.

Civic action group Save Our Berea (SOB), has launched urgent proceedings in the Durban High Court aimed at stopping the sale, by public auction, of the partially completed nine-storey building set down for Wednesday, and to stop further work on site.

SOB wants this order pending the hearing of a main application in which it seeks wide-ranging relief, including the demolition of the building which, it claims, was erected through “fraud, corruption and collusion” in the rezoning and plan approval process.

Pandor said he is the sole director of ITPRO, which has taken cession of the claims of proved creditors. The property is the only asset of value in Serengeti.

“The liquidators have made it clear the past disputes and the present proceedings will be made known to all prospective purchasers. There are approved plans in place permitting work on the site, some of which is urgent to prevent further damage to and degradation of the building.”

Damning report

In the SOB application, co-founder Kevin Dunkley claimed a damning report by the eThekwini Municipality, alleging wrongdoing on the part of municipal officials in the town planning approval processes, had been deliberately kept under wraps during previous litigation in which neighbours obtained a demolition order.

This was overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeal on a “technicality”. If the city had played open cards, the outcome of the appeal may have been very different, he argued.

However, Pandor said SOB, and in particular Advocate Pops Aboobaker, an immediate neighbour who led the initial legal charge, had the document since October 2018.

“The delay, until now, in launching this application on an extremely urgent basis is self-created and prejudicial.”

He said Aboobaker, who is representing SOB in the litigation, had himself lodged a claim of R6m for “loss of amenities, loss of privacy and constitutional damages”, as had his wife.

Their claims, however, had not yet been accepted by the liquidators.

“The fact is that he seeks to stay a sale which would be the only manner in which he could satisfy his own claim, if they were admitted.”

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