In the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Eastern Cape, South Africa

South Africans are quick to take the initiative and start a new venture. Often, there’s little thought given to the property and what it can be used for. Owners only stop and realise that they have transgressed, when the Notice of Contravention from the Local Authority, arrives in the post.

All properties in municipal areas are zoned for specific uses. Properties that are zoned Residential, are for housing, for example; a single dwelling, or dwelling units. There are Secondary Uses permitted, for example; Guest Houses, Places of Worship, Assembly or Instruction. Special Consent is required from Council for the property to be used for these Secondary Uses. Then there are Prohibited Uses, which under no circumstances can the property be used for those purposes. For example, for Residential zoning; Industries, Warehouses, or Noxious uses are not permitted. Similarly, properties zoned for Business have Primary Uses, Secondary Uses and Prohibited Uses. The purpose for zoning properties with specific uses, is to manage the development of towns and cities, to ensure harmonious living and working environments. Zoning can allow potential nuisance uses to be located away from residential neighbourhoods.

Recently there has been a trend for mixed use precincts, with a mix of residential, business and recreational uses. These require careful consideration to prevent the mixing of incompatible land uses; such as noisy manufacturing next to schools.

If the Local Authority suspect a property is being used for a purpose other than what is permitted, they will conduct an on-site inspection. If it’s determined that there is alleged illegal use, they will issue a notice of Contravention of the Zoning Scheme and give the owner 21 days to cease the alleged illegal use. Once the alleged illegal use has been stopped or removed, a follow-up inspection can be requested. Only when the law enforcement monitor is satisfied that the illegal activity has been stopped, will the Local Authority confirm compliance.

If an owner fails to comply and is found guilty, they may, upon conviction, be liable to a fine, or imprisonment, or both.

It’s advisable that property owners check the land rights, before starting a new venture or developing a property. 

If a property owner or resident would like to use a property for any use, other than for what it is zoned, they would have to apply to the Council for Special Consent. Property owners and residents are encouraged to contact the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality with any enquiries regarding land use, or zoning. For further details contact the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Human Settlements at:

Tel.:  041 506 2435