MultiChoice’s flashy new head office building in Randburg, on the corner of Republic Road and Bram Fischer Drive, is a shining temple to the DStv operator’s success. But residents affected by its construction are up in arms, accusing the Naspers-owned pay-television operator of riding roughshod over their concerns.
Iona Maclean is spokesman for a group of disgruntled homeowners who live adjacent to the construction site. She says engaging with MultiChoice over the past two years has been like talking to a brick wall.
DStv informed residents in December 2013 about the plan to build the new facility. Maclean says that since then, they have been subjected to violations of their rights.
“They are doing things which are illegal,” she claims. “I phoned the police up to 16 times a day because of the noise. DStv simply ignores noise regulations and restrictions and does construction after hours and on Sundays,” she complains.
Other concerns relate to dust and air pollution and alleged rat and termite infestations. She concedes that Dstv offered residents rat poison and provided dust extractors for each home.
But Multichoice has mostly ignored residents’ concerns and only dealt with them on an ad hoc basis, all the while continuing construction of the new facility, which has been christened MultiChoice City, she says.
“They are rich bullies and therefore they win.”
A MultiChoice spokesman says company employees will move into the new facility this month.
“Throughout the building process, we’ve adhered to all regulations and interacted regularly with residents when concerns were voiced,” the company says in a comment e-mailed to TechCentral.
“We made offers to buy the [properties] from as early as June 2013. Some accepted while others have declined — a choice we completely respect. We’ll continue to engage with the remaining residents to address their concerns.”
But the residents have started a “Hate DStv Building” page on Facebook to attract attention to the issue.
The page documents their experiences, with photos and videos they claim demonstrate the noises emanating from the building late at night, in breach of regulations.
MultiChoice boasts that the new building has a state of the art energy centre that has received a Green Building Council five-star design certification award. Yet Maclean claims the company has paid scant attention to its neighbours’ health and safety over the past two years.
She claims MultiChoice is running late with construction. “This is costing them money, so they are pushing their contractors to finish. There are financial penalties on late finishes, so contractors are ignoring all building laws. They work late every night and throughout the night. [There is] angle grinding well after 9pm and all day on Sundays.”
Maclean says MultiChoice has also infringed on residents’ right to privacy “as they have full view into our houses”.
Residents have been the subject of threats and disparaging remarks from the construction crews, she says. They have taken to putting up sails to protect their children from prying eyes. Maclean claims anyone in the new building can look into their homes and know when they leave for work or when their children are alone at home.
“Workers were standing on scaffolding watching four little eight-year-old girls swimming in my pool. I don’t think grown men should be watching young children.”
Maclean says DStv is now trying to buy all the residents homes, this after initially promising to do so two years ago. “We’ve lived lives of hell,” she says.
Maclean says appeals to the building inspector and the local ward councillor have fallen on deaf ears. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media