PRASA fined R25,000 by City of Cape Town for contravening zoning laws

Temporary relocation of families occupying central line contravened municipal by-laws

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Families that occupied the central railway line in Cape Town were relocated by PRASA to this site in Philippi East, but the land had not been zoned for human habitation. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has been fined R25,000 for contravening the City of Cape Town zoning laws when it relocated hundreds of families who had erected shacks on the central railway line tracks to a site in Philippi East.

In February, the City told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that the land first needed to be rezoned for human habitation. As a result, PRASA faced a potential R800,000 fine.

According to deputy mayor and mayco member for spatial planning Eddie Andrews, a land use application was required prior to PRASA moving the families.

The Municipal Planning Tribunal, taking into account the gravity, extent, duration and conduct, had determined the amount for the fine to be R25,000, for relocating families before submitting the application.

The initial deadline given for the rezoning application was 22 January, but PRASA applied for a 60-day extension until 22 March.

Andrews told GroundUp that PRASA’s application submitted on 8 April came four months after the City had issued the contravention notice on 22 December and had threatened PRASA with the R800,000 fine.

The City’s case officer then requested additional information to be submitted by 14 May.

PRASA requested an extension as some technical information and specialist studies were required. The City had agreed to a 31 July deadline.

“Once all the required information has been submitted, the application will be circulated to internal City departments for comment and will be advertised to stakeholders for comment,” said Andrews.

PRASA spokesperson Andiswa Makanda confirmed the fine and said it was in the process of paying the penalty for its transgression.

Makanda said PRASA Western Cape has appointed town planning consultants in preparation for the temporary departure application.

PRASA also has applications to rezone two parcels of land earmarked for housing near Weltevreden Road in Mitchells Plain as the final and permanent relocation site for families occupying the railway reserves in Langa.

Mitchells Plain residents are strongly objecting. The City is processing more than 900 comments. Andrews said the objections related to traffic concerns, social facilities for the residents, the impact on municipal services and schools within the area.

TOPICS:  Housing Land Local government Prasa / Metrorail

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