Pictures: SUNDAY TIMES
Pictures: SUNDAY TIMES

Tills will not be ringing at a multi-million-rand KwaZulu-Natal north coast shopping mall developed by Durban business tycoon Vivian Reddy after a legal bid by the Concerned Citizens Group (CCG).

The KwaDukuza Mall in which Reddy has invested R500m was scheduled to open on Thursday but the civic group rushed to the Durban High Court on Monday to stop the development‚ claiming Reddy’s firm‚ Double Ring Trading‚ has yet to secure a certificate of occupation from the KwaDukuza municipality.

The Durban High Court on Monday adjourned the application indefinitely and reserved the costs.

The court recorded that the KwaDukuza municipality and KwaDukuza Mall (Pty) Ltd‚ who were cited as second and ninth respondents‚ has undertaken that they will not permit trading in the mall‚ including the opening of the mall to the public on Thursday, until such time as the municipality has issued the developer with a valid certificate of occupancy.

After the postponement of their application‚ CCG chair Haroon Mahomedy said the company expects the KwaDukuza municipality to follow the rules.

“As the municipality has claimed in court, it wants all the rules to be observed. Then surely that means the developer should build the roads and have it ready before the opening. If they open without this pre-condition, then we will be back in court,” he said. “It’s that simple. One only has to look at the current traffic and danger to pedestrians to realise our concern. The pre-conditions of this approval must be observed to the letter of the law. Nothing less will be acceptable to us.” 

He added that the company trusts the officials will act within the law and that no favouritism will  be entertained.

The 29‚000m² mall‚ with 900 parking bays and 80 stores and restaurants‚ is the first phase of a planned R1.5bn precinct that will include a value centre‚ hotel‚ private hospital and an office park. According to a statement issued by Reddy’s office on Monday‚ the mall created 1‚100 jobs, 260 of them permanent, during construction.

BEE role model

Reddy‚ whose Edison Property Group is the developer of the R4.3bn mixed-use Oceans Umhlanga in Umhlanga Rocks‚ said the mall development is a role model in BEE with a 90% BEE participation. He said local suppliers and sub-contraction businesses have benefited by more than R80m, adding that it is the first major investment in KwaDukuza in more than 30 years.

The national tenants occupy 80% and include Checkers‚ Pick n Pay‚ Woolworths‚ Edgars‚ Mr Price‚ Truworths‚ Clicks‚ Ackermans and all major banks.

In a statement issued by the KwaDukuza municipality on Tuesday before the Durban High Court matter‚ it said the mall development is supported by all political parties within its council as it has been positioned as a “catalyst for investment in the KwaDukuza CBD and upgrading of buildings by the property owners”.

“The KwaDukuza council has no role of approving any deviation by any developer to the record of decision issued either by the municipal planning tribunal or authorised officer. It is correct that the developer approached the council through the office of the municipal manager requesting the council to consider deviation from the approved record of decision by the municipal planning tribunal.” 

Vivian Reddy ... said the mall development is a role model in BEE with a 90% BEE participation

“The council‚ based on the legal advice and technical advice by [the] economic development and planning business unit‚ referred the request to the municipal planning tribunal. The council took this decision in the middle of August 2018‚” said KwaDukuza municipality spokesperson Sipho Mkhize. He said the developer had complied with the council directive and submitted an application to amend or deviate from the record of decision to the relevant authorised body‚ the independent municipal planning tribunal.

“Therefore‚ any insinuation that the KwaDukuza council has approved deviation is lies and tantamount [to] attacking the integrity of council and its leaders‚” said Mkhize.

He said the developer has followed the process of submitting the revised traffic assessment study to both the municipality’s civil engineering business unit and the KwaZulu-Natal department of transport.

“The municipality can confirm that on August 30 2018 it issued a stop work notice to the developer, which the developer complied with and stopped their road upgrade works, pending the approval of both the traffic impact assessment and wayleaves applied from various entities.”

Mkhize also confirmed that the municipality has received an application for a temporary occupation certificate from the developer. “The municipality will follow the National Building Regulations to consider this application‚ which should be done within 14 days. The municipality expects the developer and its tenants to comply with all laws and regulations before they operate their business, and this includes the Business Act and Liquor Act.”