Dump house drives residents up the wall

Owner Adrian Baartzes in front of his house.

A house in 11th Avenue in Retreat that’s been dubbed the dump house is at the centre of a health department investigation because of heaps of dirt that have accumulated there.

Walking past the house in 11th Avenue, pedestrians have to move aside as old couches, bathtubs, bakkie canopies and bags of dirt spill over into the street from the house’s front yard.

Sickly neighbour Bronwen Rhoda has to walk past the house to get to the community health centre in 11th Avenue.

She said the dirt has been accumulated for over six years but has worsened over the past two years.

“The owner of the house asked people to dump their dirt at his house so that he can go through it for recycling and get money at the scrap yard. So he takes out the plastic bottles and other recyclables but he doesn’t get rid of the other dirt that needs to be taken to a drop-off site. People just keep bringing more dirt and it’s getting to a point where it is getting out of control,”said Ms Rhoda.

Those who take their dirt to the house in 11th Avenue have also started dumping on an open piece of land opposite the house because the yard is filled with dirt.

The nearest drop-off site is in the next road in 10th Avenue.

“It is terrible. We now have cockroaches, rats and mice because of this house.

“The stink that comes from that house sits in the air and stinks up our homes and the dirt blows over into our places. We have complained and law enforcement comes and gives him fines but it doesn’t help. It cannot go on like this,” said Ms Rhoda.

The house doesn’t have running water and electricity either.

A neighbour, who does not want to be named, said she is concerned for her and her family’s health.

“This is a health risk. My children have gotten rashes and our animals aren’t safe because they have picked up diseases because of that house. The house does not have electricity or running water either so the filth in the yard and in the house is becoming a huge problem and the owner has been allowed to continue doing what he is. The house needs to be confiscated from him if he cannot look after it,” said the concerned neighbour.

When Southern Mail spoke to the owner, Adrian Baartzes, he said things had gotten out of control.

“It was not my intention for things to get this bad. I initially started out helping the community by taking their dirt, recycling and making some money from it in the process. I was a means of income. Then too many people brought their dirt even though I’ve told them to stop,” said Mr Baartzes.

“I need help. I can’t clean this yard by myself and I know I cannot continue to live like this because I know it’s a health risk and it is bad. I promise if the council helps me clean I will take care of it,” he said.

Mr Baartzes and his sister inherited the house from their parents who died. His sister is married and lives in Strandfontein.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the City of Cape Town is aware of the conditions at the house.

He said the environmental health practitioner has served a notice on Mr Baartzes to remove all refuse rubble on his property. Mr Baartzes was served with a compliance notice which expired on Tuesday May 7.

Since he still hasn’t cleared the yard legal action will now be taken and he will be served with a summons to appear in court.

Mr Badroodien said the owner alone is responsible for cleaning the property because it is private property. He also encouraged residents to report neighbours who are in similar situations.

“Environmental health will be engaging with the City’s land-use law enforcement department regarding the activity being conducted from residential premises. If the property is privately owned, the matter can be reported to their closest environmental health office. If it is City rental stock, it can be reported to both the environmental health office and the closest City housing office.”

Ward councillor Shannen Rossouw said she and other officials will have a meeting with all relevant officials to discuss a way forward.