Woman loses court battle to use neighbour’s driveway to reverse her car

A South African woman’s car-­reversing problems has come under the spotlight in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

She wanted an order forcing her neighbour to take down a palisade fence in front of her driveway which she claimed was hampering her in reversing her car.

Catharina Steenkamp last year obtained an interim order at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.

In it, the neighbour, Cynthia Jammine, was ordered to restore Steenkamp’s use of her driveway.

In the past, this was used by Steenkamp when she reversed out of her own driveway.

But as Steenkamp initially turned to the lower court without warning Jammine, the latter had the right to later oppose the order, which she did. The magistrate, upon hearing Jammine’s side of things, discharged the interim order.

This meant that Steenkamp had to do without the extra piece of her neighbour’s driveway which was now obstructed by the fence.

Steenkamp, unhappy with this ruling, turned to the high court to appeal it. She said in overturning the order, the magistrate was wrong as she had not taken into account that she had been in possession of the piece of driveway she utilised until Jammine had erected the fence.

Steenkamp told the court that her and Jammine’s properties were adjacent to each other and that as a result she used to reverse in the driveway in order to make her way to the shared driveway of the complex in which they lived.

Steenkamp said she had done this for the past eight years until Jammine decided to erect a fence and gate in front of her driveway last year without asking for permission.

Steenkamp said she used her neighbour’s driveway as she found it difficult to drive from her garage to the shared complex driveway without assistance. She said her husband usually helped her to reverse and drive out of the complex, but he was not always there.

Jammine told the court that although she did erect the fence, it was not to spite her neighbour, but because there had been several break-ins at her house and she decided to do so for security reasons.

She added that she did not have to ask her neighbour’s permission as her driveway was not part of the common property of the complex. She said the fact that Steenkamp used her driveway to reverse and turn her car did not mean that Steenkamp was entitled to usage of her driveway.

The court looked at the building plans of the complex and noted that the distance from Steenkamp’s gate to the main entrance gate of the complex was 45m, which the court reasoned was enough space for her to turn her car without having to use her neighbour’s driveway.

In turning down the appeal, the court said the fact that Steenkamp had, from time to time, used her neighbour’s driveway to turn her car did not mean she was entitled to the usage of it. The judge said Steenkamp was not unlawfully deprived of her turning space.