VEREENIGING. – After a court case of five years, four illegal landlords were found guilty on May 20 of transforming Bedworth Park and areas around the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) into a nominal student village.
The illegal landlords are Dr Kiddo Mako, his wife Millicent, VUT lecturer Laurence Kok and his wife Annamarie Kok.
Ward 4 Councillor Milu Malhou of the Democratic Alliance (DA) says Messrs Mako and Kok are heads of a suspectedly non-existent student accommodation association.
The ‘transformation’ – which began in 1997 with the opening of a little gate to give VUT students access to the Bedworth Park Pick n Pay – embraced the flouting of numerous municipal Town Planning by-laws and lasted over 13 years.
Landlords were sentenced according to how many properties they owned and how many by-laws and regulations had been flouted, including refusal to stop expanding and renovating residential houses when instructed to do so by a building inspector.
Mr Laurence Kok and his wife were given a two-month jail sentence suspended for three years. They lost R10 000 bail each because they were found guilty. During the period of their suspended sentence they are required to rectify instances where they flouted municipal regulations. They are further required to comply with by-laws by accommodating four students to a house. Failing these conditions, they will be jailed.
Dr Mako and his wife were given a six-month sentence suspended for three years. During the period of the suspended sentence they are also required to rectify instances where by-laws were flouted.
Cllr Malhou, who has pursued the illegal landlords for years, says their conviction is a “community victory” and celebrated lambasting remarks made by the magistrate against the Emfuleni Local Municpality, ELM.
ELM was criticized for the “disgraceful non-enforcement of by-laws that had facilitated the creation of a student village”.
Cllr Malhou says the outcome opens the door for a lawsuit against ELM over the property devaluation inflicted by illegal student accommodation on Bedworth Park and other areas.
“It makes our case stronger and obliges the Receiver of Revenue to probe landlords,” she said. “It also sends a signal to landlords including councillors and municial officals who are also illegal landlords. I know who you are,” says Mrs Malhou.
News source: Mooivaal Media – Vaalweekblad