A group of Dan Pienaar business owners, who have recently been instructed by the high court to close their businesses by 1 November 2019 yesterday, met with the Executive Mayor of Mangaung Municipality, Olly Mlamleli, hoping to find answers about the future of their businesses. But they left the meeting with more questions than answers.
The court decision followed complaints by a group of concerned residents about businesses that are being run on residential properties in Dan Pienaar. Most of these business owners have been served with eviction notices to evacuate their premises by 1 November and many of them argued that they do not have the financial means to move their businesses and that this would mean that their employees will lose their jobs at the end of the day.
During the meeting with Mlamleli the business owners had a chance to raise their frustrations about their rezoning applications that have not been approved for more than three years.
Mlamleli said she had called the meeting because she shared the frustration of the people. “Fortunately the Dan Pienaar Structural Plan has gone through all the processes and is on the agenda for the next council meeting. The relevant department came to me with a presentation, to which I had my own questions, but fortunately it has gone through and is now just awaiting the next council meeting,” she said.
Although these developments are welcomed by the business owners, it doesn’t change the fact that some of them have to vacate their businesses next month. One of the business owners, who doesn’t want to be named, told Bloemfontein Courant that although the meeting with Mlamleli has brought about new questions, at least it was a step in the right direction. “I think that we will have to go back to the municipality to ask what Mlamleli’s announcement about the Structural Plan means for us and our businesses, and whether we still need to be out in two weeks’ time.”
Another business owner said that she is satisfied with the response and the fact that they acknowledged them and the problem. She said that she is pleased that the Dan Pienaar Structural Plan will be discussed at the next council meeting. “However, the people who were instructed to be out by 1 November, still face a bleak future unless the Structural Plan is finalised and approved before the time.”
The affected business owners are now hoping that the plaintiffs in the case will give them a break so they can submit their rezoning applications to the municipality and get the necessary business rights.