'Resurrection pastor' raises fury with Sandton home renovations
"Resurrection pastor" Alph Lukau has raised the ire of neighbours who say he is defying orders to stop building a multimillion-rand guesthouse on his Sandton property.
Homeowners in the exclusive suburb of Morningside say the residential character of Huntingdon Road will be destroyed by Lukau's "illegally built and imposing structures" - an accusation the pastor has denied.
The City of Johannesburg has confirmed it ordered the controversial Alleluia Ministries leader in October last year to stop further construction because he had not got approval for building two guard houses with entrances.
Metro spokesperson Poppy Louw said Lukau had deviated from approved building plans, which allowed him only to make additions to his existing residence.
She said Lukau had also been slapped with a contravention notice for violating the 3m building line as three newly constructed bedrooms overlapped the building line.
Lukau's lawyer this week confirmed he had recently had to demolish a steel structure for which he had not submitted plans.
Lukau made world headlines last month after supposedly resurrecting a man, Brighton Moyo, from the dead. A video of the "miracle" went viral on social media.
Alleluia Ministries said later in a statement that Lukau did not claim to have brought Moyo back to life but had "only completed a miracle that God had started".
Lukau is known for his flashy lifestyle, and his social media posts are full of pictures of his private jet and luxury cars, including a Rolls-Royce.
Angry neighbours said construction work started about 13 months ago and was continuing despite him having been told to stop work.
Louw said the building plans for Lukau's proposed extension to the main house were only approved on August 4 last year and council officials conducted the first site inspection 12 days later.
She said he had applied to have the three-storey residential building rezoned as a guesthouse in October. According to the rezoning application, the total floor area would be 2,156m² and would include two guard rooms and 17 parking bays.
In several identical letters objecting to the rezoning application, sent to the municipality between November and last month, Huntingdon Road residents said Lukau failed "to take the neighbourhood into [his] confidence" about the scope and planned use of the proposed development.
"Construction is routinely taking place over weekends and public holidays and often late into the night. Workmen park their vehicles in the street, blocking driveways, as they are not permitted to park inside the property," they said in the letter, which the Sunday Times has seen.
"They have erected two separate entrances to a single residential property and constructed an enormous wall and two elaborate gatehouses.
"Once in use, the property will be host to outdoor functions, as is evident from the landscaping and rooftop entertaining areas being constructed, which will result in significant noise and potentially dangerous traffic conditions," they wrote.
They added that Lukau, who moved out of the house two years ago, had in the past hosted several functions that resulted in road closures, disruptions and congestion.
One of Lukau's neighbours told the Sunday Times his wife and young daughter had stopped using their swimming pool because of the builders who were constantly at work next door.
A newly constructed balcony directly overlooks their swimming pool.
Another neighbour told the Sunday Times large generators had been used on numerous occasions outside Lukau's property, "flooding my house with diesel fumes".
"Building has consistently occurred late into the afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays, making it impossible for my family to enjoy their weekends or even go out into our garden," he said.
Lukau's attorney, Lucia Smyth, said building work stopped several months ago, except for "finishes and landscaping".
"All building to the roof area ceased on October 18 in compliance with the notice received on that date. There is no merit to allegations of construction taking place over weekends."
She said that the approved plans make provision for a 1.8m screen wall on the rooftop area to ensure that the neighbours' privacy is not infringed.
The Sunday Times spotted between 20 to 25 workers on site during a visit to the neighbourhood this week.
Smyth denied that there were road closures or that Lukau hosted large functions when he was living on the property.
She confirmed that, subject to the approval of the rezoning application, Lukau planned to use the property as a guesthouse.