New Germany residents dispute liability over fallen tree damage

The home owner is still awaiting a decision from the Parks Department on whether or not they can remove the tree that is still lying on her roof. PHOTO: Submitted.

A HUGE tree from a panhandle site fell onto a property on Campbell Road in New Germany, damaging the roof, fence and windows on Sunday night [14 May], at about 8.45pm

According to the home owner, Pam Rabikissoon, the disaster management team arrived to assess the damage and she was told that they could not assist, however a tree felling company will be sent the following morning.

“The municipality sent out a team on Monday morning and they told my husband that the tree doesn’t belong to them as it is private property. They agreed to only clear the branches on my neighbour’s driveway so she can gain access to her property but not the rest of the branches that is in our property. Our neighbour said she did not plant this tree,” said Rabikissoon.

It is an old fir tree and Rabikissoon said there are about four more of those in the area.

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She added that she spoke to a woman called Lindiwe at the Parks Department. Lindiwe informed her that her manager is in the process of verifying whether the tree is on municipal land and she must await feedback.

“Our insurers will cover all the damages but not clear the tree as they say it was not on our property. Is it fair for the Parks Department to clear only the driveway for my neighbour but not the rest of the tree that is sitting on our roof and property?” questioned Rabikissoon.

Meanwhile, the Rabikissoon family is forced to hold off any repairs while they wait for a response from the Parks Department.

Her insurance company cut back a few branches of the tree which is on her roof. This will enable Rabikissoon to arrange to erect a tarpaulin on the roof to prevent the rain from entering the house until the Parks Department is able to remove the bark of the tree from her roof.

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Khethumusa Ntshakala responded to Rabikissoon on behalf of the Parks Department earlier today. She wrote: “Unfortunately the tree is on private land not municipal land or verge as you can see on the attached map highlighted. We do not do private land.”

A map that the Parks Department sent to Pam Rabikissoon to outline the property ownership on Campbell Road, New Germany.

 

However, Rabikissoon’s neighbours who live on the panhandle properties are disputing this. They claim their driveways were cut out for them by the municipality when the property was divided into plots for them to build. They are adamant that this is common land and therefore will not take responsibility for the tree removal.

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Rabikissoon feels like she has been treated unfairly and her only hope if for the municipality to reconsider their decision –  to perhaps help to cut up the branches and she will pay for the clearing of branches if need be just so she can repair the damages.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay
Journalist

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