News from - - Your day in court?

It is not the job of the Court to set neighbourhood aesthetic standards or rule on what is aesthetic or not.

That's the view of Deputy Judge President of the Cape, Justice Jeanette Traverso, speaking on the issues of neighbour law at the annual strb Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes Property Convention. Traverso said that a clear set of rules and principles was required in terms of neighbour law, but that judging what is aesthetic or not is not part of the debate.

Justice Traverso told delegates that 'property owners' toes will be trampled on' as land and shelter issues increasingly take centre stage. These issues would occupy the Court as it seeks to find a balance between the rights of the people to shelter, and the rights of property and land owners.

"The Court won't interfere with aesthetics, however," said Traverso. "As diverse societies in South Africa mingle, increasingly different building styles are coming to the fore. In Bishopscourt, for example, if someone buys a plot of land next to you and builds a cultural village, could you object?"

"I'm afraid, if past precedents are anything to go by, the answer is no. It was pointed out in Dorland & Another v. Smits that aesthetics are subjective and personal. If aesthetics become actionable, the nuisance law would be transformed into a license for Courts to set neighbourhoods' aesthetic standards. In our ever changing society, we should not be permitted to impose our idea of western aesthetics on other cultural groups."

Traverso said that increasing urbanism means that "the fall of property ownership has changed", adding that the influx of people to the cities has led to smaller erven being sold, an increase in golf and security estates as well as numerous "sprawling informal settlements".

As government strives to meet land, service and shelter needs of people affected by the laws of the past, use of land will be affected.

Highlighting a case in which residents objected to the resettlement of people adjacent to their suburb, citing that the resettlement "would cause a public nuisance', an increase in crime in the area and a diminution of property values, the Court dismissed the complaints of the residents by virtue of the provisions of the Act in question."

"There's no easy solution to balance the rights of all, but fairness, justice and practicality will play a role."

What's in store for 2010

Meanwhile, former international footballer and World Cup 2010 ambassador Gary Bailey told delegates from the property industry that the cup would create a "massive tourist boom" after the event.

Outlining Gameplan 2010, a strategy created by, Bailey said it wasn't stadiums that made visitors fall in love with the country, but the people.

"In terms of hospitality, visitors are happy to stay in cheap accommodation. Bed and Breakfast operations should thrive and visitors are quite happy to stay within a three hour radius of a city," he said.

"One resident in Alexandra township in Gauteng is building 30 rooms now. Townships could be big, depending on the safety factor," he said.

He warned Cape Town estate agents not to anticipate large residential sales on the back of the World Cup. "Cape Town is already expensive. But cities such as Port Elizabeth could experience a boom. Smaller cities make money."

Bailey also warned that big cities didn't always make money, saying that only four cities out of 13 showed a profit when the Cup was held in the US. In fact, New York lost $1-billion. "Cape Town should be careful about what it spends," he said.

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