‘Borehole’ puzzle

Charlton de Koker and Claudine Paulsen at the hole they found in the yard.

When two New Horizon neighbours found what appears to be borehole on the border of their properties, they first thought it would be able to provide them with water.

But Charlton de Koker and Claudine Paulsen soon began to worry that the hole and the water may cause the walls of their homes to cave in.

The hole had been covered up with a concrete slab and was already in place when the residents moved into the new housing development.

It was discovered when Mr De Koker and Ms Paulsen agreed to build a vibracrete wall to separate the two properties.

Mr De Koker had drilled a hole in the concrete slab to place poles for the wall.

That was when wet sand started coming out of the hole.

Layla Ryklief, a community leader, who alerted Southern Mail about the hole, said she was worried that Mr De Koker couldn’t plant the pole in the ground because of the water seeping through. “These houses are built on wetlands,” she said.

Mr De Koker is worried that the underground water could affect the foundation of the house. “I fear that my house will fall in if the foundation gets water underneath.”

He showed Southern Mail the position where they assumed the water pump of the borehole was situated and also where the water came out. “I’m afraid the water will come bubbling out on the surface. So we have to be careful not to step in it,” said Mr De Koker.

He said his foot went right into the hole..

Neighbour Claudine Paulsen, who moved into her house in September last year, said she had wondered why there was a concrete block in the sand in her yard.

She said if Mr De Koker had not started building the wall, they would never have known about the hole.

Ms Paulsen called the City of Cape Town who informed them that they should contact Power Construction, the company which was in charge of the housing project.

Meanwhile, Southern Mail also asked the City of Cape Town for a response and Benedicta van Minnen, the mayoral committee member for human settlements, said: “Unfortunately, the City of Cape Town is prohibited by law from spending money on or from improving the general state of privately-owned properties with public money. We urge the resident to contact the construction company and to see if there is a solution.”

In addition, the City urges the resident and the resident’s neighbour to see if they could come to some kind of arrangement to achieve what would be in the best interest of both parties.”

Ms Paulsen said she fosters seven children and she had feared that if the hole was left unattended the children may fall inside.

Ms Paulsen said Power Construction workers first came to investigate on Thursday November 10. “They came to check, then came back the next day to assess. They told me they will open it up and break out the concrete walls underneath the ground, which looks like a mini grave.”

She said the workers started to chip and drill to remove the concrete slab on Thursday November 17. “They took a whole day to do so and came back on Friday November 18, to check on it. The workers told me they have filled the hole with rubble and broken bricks and sand.”

She said on Friday November 18, when she was doing her washing, she drained the water from her washing machine and water started bubbling in the sand. “The workers promised that it won’t affect us. But I am worried that the sand is not compacted. Power officials phoned me, that same day, to say they are bringing the compactor to tightened the sand, on Tuesday November 22, between 8.30am and 11am.

Percy Knight, director of Power Developments, said: “This structure whatever it was, we still don’t know, isn’t something we ever saw or found during the construction of the civil services or houses. When it was brought to our attention we visited the property and we are busy attending to the issue. In short we are busy breaking down the structure to one metre below ground level, then will put a concrete slab over the top and backfill and compact the hole back to natural ground level. This has been discussed with building inspector and our engineer to confirm and approve method statement. Presently the hole has been demarcated for safety reasons and holds no danger to the structural integrity of the house. Lastly I just want to place on record that when the owner approached us we immediately visited the property, removed the slab to ascertain and investigated the options with various authorities for the best solution to the problem plus we safeguarded the area as per normal regulations.”