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‘Illegal’ ECD fined

An early learning centre (ECD), which has been operating since April last year in De Bron Avenue in Kenridge without the necessary land use approval, is the source of great irritation for neighbours in De Bron Avenue in Kenridge.

It was only after Roslyn Botha, owner of The Kinder Garden, was served a law enforcement compliance notice in May last year – indicating that a land use application must be made to correct the current unauthorised land use, that the owner submitted her land use application.

However, the application that was submitted, was pended due to the administrative penalty that was required to be approved to continue with the land use application, Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, said on enquiry to TygerBurger.

“The administrative penalty application was made in May 2019 as well, but was refused due to outstanding information. The information was received months later and the administrative penalty was prepared for the Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) meeting on 10 December last year,” Nieuwoudt said.

The administrative penalty of R6 000 was finally determined at the meeting and the fine was issued.

“The owner has until the end of February to pay this fine. If it is not paid, the case will refer back to law enforcement,” Nieuwoudt said.

Neighbours are irate, because the ECD has been operating with more than 30 children on a daily basis, without them being able to say their say, while the process is being dragged out, according to them.

“It is like a children’s party every day with children shouting and crying. It is causing the dogs in the neighbourhood to constantly bark.

“It is impossible for my son to concentrate on his school work,” said Hans Hückstedt, one of the neighbours behind the ECD.

“We as rate paying residents are being bullied by people that have no regard or respect for other residents or the law. 

“Yet, the City keeps on entertaining them and giving them over extended grace, and it seems, support, to their illegal activities,” he wrote in one of his emails to the City.

“I find it unbelievable that an illegal business can hijack the system by simply delaying on what they must deliver; nothing gets done and they continue to operate illegally,” Hückstedt said.

He said the fact that the property is run as a business and the premises is vacated at night, can contribute to crime. 

“The property can serve as a safe haven at night for criminals to launch their criminal activities from there,” he said.

According to Charmaine Gray, also a resident and land usage portfolio committee member of Kenridge Ratepayers Association, residents complain about the noise, dogs barking and increased traffic in the street. 

“It is also the mere fact that she opened a business without approval. Now she is holding the neighbours and the City at ransom while she is delaying the process,” she said.

On a question why the ECD is allowed to continue its business a usual, Nieuwoudt said the law allows the transgressor to cease, or rectify. “This rectification is now in process,” she said.

“In addition, it needs to be noted that the administrative penalty must be paid before the land use application can be assessed.

“Once the applicant has paid the administrative penalty, the land use application will be advertised to surrounding affected property owners. It is expected that notices will be sent by registered mail this week,” she said.

On its website The Kinder Garden advertises its services – specialising in baby care and focusing on education in the early years. The ECD caters for children between three months and six years of age.

Botha, owner of The Kinder Garden, said to TygerBurger her ECD is not illegal as she is following procedures. 

“I have moved premises and submitted an application to the City. I have done a successful land use consent application before and had consent for business use at our previous premises,” she said.

According to her, The Kinder Garden was established in 2007 already, but according to their website the ECD was founded in 2013.

“We are following the process with our application and trusting and adhering to the rules and regulations as set out by the department.

“We now look forward to the next step in the process regarding our pre-school in a residential area. It is a lengthy process,” she said.

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