South Africa 22.10.2013 07:00 am

Parks must own up, says heir

Innisfree Park resident Rodson Chauke poses for a portrait, 09 October 2013, Sandton, Johannesburg.  The informal settlement that is built on a public park has been inhabited by its residents since 1963. The land was originally privately owned but was sold to City Parks. Picture: Alaister Russell

Innisfree Park resident Rodson Chauke poses for a portrait, 09 October 2013, Sandton, Johannesburg. The informal settlement that is built on a public park has been inhabited by its residents since 1963. The land was originally privately owned but was sold to City Parks. Picture: Alaister Russell

All the land on which the Innisfree Park is located in Sandown, Sandton, is owned by the Johannesburg City Parks and not the donors of the property as previously asserted by the custodians of the city’s green heritage.

The revelation comes after The Citizen published a story earlier this month in which City Parks said the removal of an informal settlement on the prime land was the responsibility of the owners referring to the late Richard Lurie’s family, who donated the land in 1963.

The heir to the land, Charles Lurie, responded by pointing out that the land, in fact, was owned by City Parks following its donation and that this was clearly stated in the title deed. He further offered a copy of the document to be viewed for confirmation.

The document, obtained from City Parks, confirmed ownership of the land by the entity. It, however, further states under the heading Basis of Donation that the Luries “have exclusive right to use and occupation of the property, free of any rental or any other consideration whatsoever”, and that they “shall be responsible for the maintenance, repair and upkeep of the property or portion thereof, as the case of any services provided in respect thereof by the council”.

Under the same section of donation conditions, the document states that as a result of the transaction, the Innisfree Park must be preserved as a public open space. In light of these conditions, Lurie has since threatened to take City Parks to court to reverse the donation due to the alleged contraventions.

The alleged contraventions included City Parks not acting against the informal dwelling, which Lurie said was expanding and posing a safety hazard in the area. He also said the restriction of public access to the recreational park was another contravention.

Contacted for comment, City Parks spokesman Jenny Moodley steered clear of the ownership revelation. She said the clause that stated that the Lurie family was responsible for the maintenance of the property included the informal settlement.

 

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