A dilapidated house in Wetton which neighbours say has been a nightmare to deal with for the past several years will hopefully be revamped and restored soon.
The house in Becott Road is City of Cape Town-owned rental stock, which was leased to tenants, but for the past few years the house has been rundown and neglected.
Unlawful occupants moved onto the premises which led to drug peddling, prostitution and dumping.
Ottery community worker Keith Blake had been in contact with the City of Cape Town to address the issue and on Saturday June 17, a fire at the house renewed calls for the City to either demolish or close up what residents said was a problem building.
Mr Blake said residents in Wetton, specifically in Becott and Muller roads, had been complaining about the house for years but said not much had been done by the City.
“It’s a neglected, drug den and dumping site where there is prostitution and other illegal activities and the house has a history of illegal tenants. Residents who have young children are at their wits’ end to have this house demolished,” said Mr Blake.
He said the fire brought attention to the building but also posed a risk to nearby houses as well as the illegal occupants who live or frequent the space.
“Enough is enough. The time is now that the Problem Housing Unit takes up the griefs and protest of law-abiding citizens and provides service delivery which to this point has been non-existent. We ask that the City deal with this issue as soon as possible because it is after all City property.
A neighbour, who preferred to stay anonymous, said the house attracted gangs and “dodgy characters”.
“We would be too scared to walk past the house because there were always people lurking around and doing something dodgy. It is a major concern for all of us living in the street because we didn’t feel safe, our children don’t have the freedom to play outside and we’re not free to enjoy our space all because of this house. It’s really a nightmare,” she said.
Johnathan Fredericks, who lives in the street, said there had been attempts to start a petition to close down the house. “We complained and spoke to the councillors but nothing came of it. The City just ignored us and nothing was done which led to the situation getting worse as time went on. I hope the fire will put some fire under the City to shut down this house for the good of this community,” he said.
The City said the department has been aware of the alleged anti-social activities that were taking place at the house before the fire, confirmed that the house is part of the City’s rental stock and said the legal tenant had passed away.
The City then negotiated with the deceased’s son to transfer the tenancy however he, together with other unlawful occupants, were reportedly responsible for the anti-social activities taking place there.
The son recently advised that due to circumstances which he claimed are beyond his control, he would not be returning to the property and the City is thus in the process of dealing with the unlawful occupants that were left behind.
The City’s media office said several Law Enforcement agencies had been involved with dealing with the issue and the Social Housing Unit had done several raids, inspections and surveys of the property.
“At the last raid, they did not find any signs of anti-social activities at the time and day the investigation was done. Following the fire, they have since requested additional assistance from Law Enforcement units.”
The building is also not flagged as a problem building because it’s part of the City’s rental stock. No one was injured in the fire on Saturday June 17 and the City reported that since the fire the unlawful occupants have also abandoned the building.
The City said the building will be assessed for damages and an insurance claim will be processed but in the interim repairs arrangements have been made to barricade the property and for “No trespassers” notices to be erected. Once repaired, the house will be allocated to the next qualifying tenant or applicant.