Victory for Centurion residents
There was a huge sigh of relief for those residing and/or working in Centurion when an agreement was reached in the Gauteng High Court towards the end of January 2018 that provided that the City of Tshwane must effect repairs to the sinkhole on the corner of Gerald and Jean Avenue immediately, and that the repairs needed to be completed within a period of 6 months.
This court order came after seven businesspeople from several restaurants, shopping centres and garages within the vicinity of the sinkhole joined forces and took the City of Tshwane to court with the view of compelling the City to initiate repairs to the sinkhole, which was discovered in May last year.
The applicants’ legal representative, Jacques Classen, said that, with all the vehicle accidents that happened at this site as a result of no lighting at night, the order also forced the City of Tshwane to safeguard the site by completely closing the entire intersection.
The order furthermore compels the City of Tshwane to provide the applicants and the registrar of the court with monthly progress reports.
Those applicants whose businesses were severely impacted have indicated their intention to sue for damages suffered as a result of the delay in repairing the sinkhole. Classen said that some businesses informed him that they had lost at least 50% of their revenue, with the damage estimated to be in the region of approximately R100 million.
One of the applicants, Gerry Kanaris, a manager of News Café which has been in operation for 17 years, said that he had to close doors last year due to the delay in the sinkhole being fixed. The shut-down affected at least 30 families. He also confirmed that his revenue had fallen from about R1.5 million a month to a meagre R200 000 per month.
The City of Tshwane’s response to the publication of the order in the media was quite interesting; they stated that “The court did not order the City to repair the sinkhole nor did it provide a time-frame within which to carry out the repairs. The City reached a settlement agreement with the applicants in that we would provide monthly progress reports to the registrar of the court and applicants, and that the anticipated time of completion, barring any outside influences, would be six months”.
From a legal perspective these are the facts:
- The applicants launched an application against the City of Tshwane for an order compelling the City of Tshwane to perform certain acts;
- The City of Tshwane then reached a settlement with the applicants; the settlement contained the various aspects set out above;
- The settlement agreement was made an order of court;
- Accordingly, by virtue of the settlement agreement being made an order of court, it is in fact a court order which the City of Tshwane will have to comply with.
The City of Tshwane agreed to pay the costs of the application, which indicates that the legal advice from its representatives was most likely that should the application be heard by a Judge, the City of Tshwane would most likely lose the battle and the court would have ordered them to attend to the repairs in any event.
The road (where Jean Avenue links the N14 with the N1 highway) that was closed last year when the sink hole was discovered, used to carry up to 50 000 cars a day. The detour has caused much havoc and frustration for all using this road. As a Centurion resident myself, knowing the impact of this sink hole on not only the community, but our everyday living, I applaud these seven applicants who took the time and spent the money to bring the City to terms with their obligations.