Property developers booted off Obz Civic Association

“The attempted ‘hijacking’ of the civic body has actually energised the community in a way that we haven’t seen for years.”

Photo of Observatory meeting

Observatory residents came out in numbers on Tuesday night to remove three property developers from the suburb’s civic association. Photo: Maxwell Roeland

By Maxwell Roeland

29 November 2017

On Tuesday night, Observatory residents voted unanimously to nullify the controversial election that put three people linked to property development into top positions in the Observatory Civic Association last month. The three are Theo Kruger, Ebrahim Abader, who are property developers, and Tertius van Zyl, an architectural technologist.

The packed meeting saw hundreds of residents queue up for registration outside the Observatory Community Centre. Registration for new OCA members was cut off 35 minutes past the meeting’s scheduled starting time at about 200 members, a record turnout.

Olivia Andrews, chairperson of the OCA business forum, gave residents a detailed recap of suspicious activity noticed on the night and irregularities found on the voter’s roll including:

Andrews also raised a conflict of interest. One of the OCA’s functions is to monitor property development in Observatory, but there are ongoing developments owned by Kruger and Abader.

Kruger, van Zyl and Abader, who were present at the meeting, were given the chance to answer to these charges.

Abader said that the bloc of new members voting for them was a result of a marketing campaign they had run in advance of the election. “We asked people in Observatory to vote for us. So people on the day came out and they voted for us.”

Residents in the hall interjected saying that they had not heard of any such marketing campaign.

Van Zyl said that Andrews’s account was biased and put the three in “a very bad perspective” before they could make their case. He further said that the newly-elected committee had not had a chance to prove themselves,

Kruger denied accusations that his properties were being used as a home/business address by multiple new voters. He said that the OCA’s constitution allowed for all people who own or occupy property or a businesses in Observatory to vote.

Audience members were then invited to put forward proposals for a course of action. After two proposals and several amendments, the final proposal put to a vote was as follows

The final tally was 200 votes in favour with no votes against and no abstentions.

Kruger refused to comment on the meeting, while Abader and van Zyl left before GroundUp could get comment from them.

Murray Hunter, an Observatory resident had this to say about the meeting: “Last night was a great result for Obs. The attempted ‘hijacking’ of the civic body has actually energised the community in a way that we haven’t seen for years. But what’s really encouraging is that many people have been talking, on the sidelines of the meeting and on social media forums, about what kind of development we do want in this neighbourhood - development which is inclusive and progressive. It feels like a new space is opening up in Obs’s civic life.”

CORRECTION: Minor factual corrections were made to this article after publication.