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Home shops hard hit by by-laws

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The owners of home shops in Mitchell’s Plain say their businesses have been affected by strict re-zoning by-laws implemented by the City of Cape Town. The new regulation stipulates that the entire premises of the business needs to be zoned off accordingly which include a number of inspections.

The Ally family from Lentegeur in Mitchells Plain are concerned after being warned by a city inspector to cease all trading until the re-zoning has been approved. Since they filed all the necessary paper work in May 2014, processing is still under way. They have now been summoned to the Municipal Court for trading illegally.

Home businesses often the only form of income for many families on the Cape Flats. This is no different for the Ally family whose mechanic workshop has been a means of income for the entire family for almost 25 years.

After Anwar Ally’s father reached retirement age, he fell next in line to take over his father’s workshop. The family have been living in Lentegeur for 30 years and say they had no prior knowledge of any re-zoning needed for home businesses.

“We were just told by an inspector that we need to go and apply for re-zoning. He told us that we need to cease all trading within thirty days. How are we supposed to survive? It has taken them some months to approve our application and still, we cannot offer our services. Our neighbours have even offered us their property to continue our work in the interim,” Anwar explained.

The family has now been summoned by the municipal court for trading illegally. Anwar explained that while they have informed the inspector that this business is their “bread and butter”, no compensation was offered.

The City of Cape Town’s regional manager in the Department of Planning and Building Management, Emil Schnackenberg said if home business owners do not adhere to the regulations of the re-zoning scheme, it could have a detrimental impact on neighbours. All businesses operating from the home of the owners are required to apply for the re-zoning however big or small the business is.

“We have held a number of workshops within the local communities, spanning over a year, to educate home business owners of the zoning scheme,” Schnackenberg said.

Home business owners are urged to contact the municipal offices in their area to apply for the re-zoning of their businesses or face hefty penalties and or summons by the court.

“This scheme is only for the benefit of home business owners. It not only enhances the rights of home owners but business owners as well,” said Schnackenberg.

In some cases, owners carry on irrespective and do not attempt to regulate their business. In those cases they will be summoned to court or issued a fine from about R500 to R5000, he added. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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