Some property owners in Eden Garden, a development along the Agatha Road on the outskirts of Tzaneen, allegedly cannot occupy their homes. According to one property owner who bought a package deal in Eden Garden, this is because they cannot obtain occupancy certificates until the sewerage, water and electricity connections have been installed and signed off by the inspectors.

An Occupation Certificate (OC) is compulsory for every building before occupation, as required by the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (1977). This is to show that all requirements have been met, and thus safeguards the owner. The OC specifies the type of building – freestanding, terraced, cluster complex, town house complex, apartments, or commercial buildings – and is required before water and electricity deposits can be accepted for newly built properties.

To obtain the OC from the municipality, a property owner will need approved building plans, any documents pertaining to rezoning, building line relaxations and other related documentation. The property owner will also need a completion certificate from a registered structural or civil engineer, for the foundations, concrete slabs, staircases, wooden or suspended floors, steel work, freestanding walls over 2.1m high, swimming pools and all structures built without prior planning permission.

On top of all these documents, the property owner will also need an IOPSA Certificate of Compliance (Institute of Plumbing South Africa), a glazing certificate, Electrical Certificate of Compliance, and a Fire Certificate.

The package deal mentioned by the property owner who spoke to Bulletin, was sold to him for more than R860 000 and included the stand, and a three-roomed house with a single garage. The house was built by Phethego Developments.

“We want answers here. Every month I pay R8 000 back on my loan to the bank for a house that I cannot live in. My family and I have to rent a home in Tzaneen while our home in Eden Garden remains inaccessible,” said the property owner. “I am in contact with the developer regularly. Last year he blamed the delay in the process on the Covid-19 lockdown which I kind of understood, but last week he told me that they had run into a challenge while trying to lay the pipes for the sewerage. He said that they will need to blast through heavy boulders. So far nothing is happening.”

Last week Bulletin reported that there were no pumps in the sewerage pumpstation meant to pump the raw human waste from the stands within Eden Garden, to the processing plant. We had received reliable information that the stands were not connected to the sewerage infrastructure which meant that the raw waste would be spilling into the stream running past the development, rather than being flushed to the treatment plant.

We asked the Greater Tzaneen Municipality (GTM) why there were no pumps in the pumpstation, and why development was allowed to continue despite this. Neville Ndlala, spokesperson for the GTM pointed the finger at the Mopani District Municipality (MDM) and said that they had removed the pumps from the pumpstation for safe keeping.

Odas Ngobeni, the spokesperson for the MDM, refuted the claims and explained that in fact the maintenance of the water and sewerage infrastructure was not the responsibility of the district municipality, but that of the local municipality. The pumpstation was constructed by Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (COGHSTA), but the supply of sewerage services remained the responsibility of the GTM.

“If they [GTM] are not able to assist, we will be able to step in and see where we can help,” Ngobeni said. “We need to investigate this matter and determine the way forward. If it is an issue of manpower, we can jump in and get the job done in little time, because it would not require budget adjustments. Currently we are nearing the end of the financial year and that means that it would be exceedingly difficult to assist financially in a project that was not budgeted for. The new budget has already been adopted,” Ngobeni explained.

Bulletin has sent an inquiry to Neville Ndlala, spokeperson for the GTM, to gain some clarity on the new information we received. Because of the public holiday on Wednesday however, we had not received any response from him at the time of going to print. We also attempted to contact the developer, Matthew Mhlongo, on his mobile phone for comment and clarity, but were unable to reach him. This is a developing story and we will publish new findings as the information becomes available.