Call for action against derelict house

People are doing drugs and lighting fires inside this derelict Diamond Drive house, say neighbours.

A derelict house in Sheraton Park is a drug den and a fire hazard, say neighbours.

A fire damaged part of the Diamond Drive house earlier this month, but while the fire department says the cause of the blaze, at about 1am on Tuesday October 5, is unknown, neighbour Emmanuel Slinger says fires are lit often in the house and the son of one of the owners does drugs there with his friends.

He has pleaded in vain with the City, he says, to warn the woman to take responsibility for her son and his friends, as it is not the first time the house has caught fire.

The latest fire had started after the owner’s son had fallen asleep with a fire going, he said.

Mr Slinger called the Lakeside fire department when he was woken by the fire next door.

“This could have turned out so differently, not only for the person in the house but also for myself and my family,” he said.

The house had burned two years ago as well, he said, although he could not recall the exact date.

“The damage caused the house to be without any water, electricity and any ablution facilities. The son still lives in the house, and it has become a place where a lot of illegal activities are sighted.”

There were piles of rubbish around the house and the sighting of several cats on the property suggested the presence of vermin, he said. “Because there are no windows, it is barricaded with different materials, to keep out the cold, I presume, resulting in fires being made inside of the place during the night.

“Many times, I have woken up in the night, to use the bathroom, only to find my house smelling like smoke. This is a huge health concern especially for my children.”

The stench coming from the house was overbearing, he said.

“There are days when I cannot even open my windows facing the boundary wall, as the urine smell is so overpowering. Also, during the night, you constantly hear people up and down, and this has caused unpleasant living conditions.”

Basil Daniels, who has lived in Diamond Drive for 25 years, wants the City to condemn the property.

“Lots of substance abuse is taking place,” he said. “Kids flock there all hours of the day and night. The place stinks. There is no water or electricity; they use the yard as a toilet and do as they please. Something must be done before the community is going to break that place down.”

Other neighbours were reluctant to comment.

The police are aware of drug use at the house, according to Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp

“Several raids have been conducted at the residence over the past few months. Three persons have been arrested for possession of drugs,” he said.

The house’s co-owner, Karen Maart, told the Southern Mail that her son’s friends had sent the house on fire.

“Yes, they do drugs, but things happen when I’m not there,” she said.

She had been living there for 33 years and she didn’t want to sell because she and the co-owner wanted to “fix the place”, she said.

Asked if she was aware that the house was a safety hazard, she said: “I am aware of it, and I reassure the neighbours that this will never happen again.”

Ward councillor Marita Petersen said she had written to the City’s problem-buildings unit to investigate and have the house declared a problem building.

“The lady of the house received a number of offers to purchase, but she is not willing (to sell). I’m sorry the community has to go through this, as the City must make an application to the courts to have private properties declared problem buildings, and it’s always a lengthy process,” she said.

Filth in and outside the house attracts vermin, say residents.
The co owner says she wants to “fix the place”.
Fires are lit often inside the house, say neighbours.