A resident of Home Morea, a council-owned home for seniors in Lotus River, says she has been victimised by fellow residents and staff for more than a year and her pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears at the City of Cape Town’s rent office.
Pensioner Fozia Arend, 63, said she is badly affected by residents smoking in enclosed passages, laundry areas and in the bathroom.
She said her mother died of throat cancer and she herself was prone to throat infections. “My throat is problematic. I can’t wear perfume, burn incense sticks, use fabric softener or be near cigarette smoke or my throat gets terribly infected.
“I suffer from bad sinuses. I came to this place and saw the ‘No Smoking’ signs but it was not to be. I am suffering. I have complained to the Grassy Park rent office, but they are not helpful and people are still smoking. I was told who I am to complain, that they can smoke if they want.”
After battling to get support, Ms Arend tried to apply for a transfer to another home more than a year ago.
“Because I complained I am being harassed verbally, mentally and emotionally. They throw oil on my plants, etc. I complained to the Grassy Park rent office and they called (the culprits) in. However, they denied it,” said Ms Arend.
“Is this how I must spend my golden years? Do I not have a right to breathe in non toxic air? To protect my body?”
She said residents swear and argue at the home. “Just the other day two of them were fighting over territory. The police commander of Grassy Park police station came out here already to have a meeting with them about the problems,” said Ms Arend.
Captain Wynita Kleinsmith, spokesperson of Grassy Park police station, confirmed they had been serving numerous interdicts and many criminal cases had been opened including domestic violence at Home Morea.
“Station Commander Colonel Dawood Laing has had several talks with the old people already as they also have petty fights amongst each other,” Captain Kleinsmith said.
Ms Arend approached Riyad Isaac, a community leader in Schaapkraal and he escalated a letter to the City of Cape Town last month.
“I was informed that the victimisation continues. However, Ms Arend is not the only one that has to endure these unbearable living conditions as there are others that have now come forward.
“Whilst the no smoking signs may have been placed at the centre, it still continues and has a negative impact on the health of others. I am not sure as to how far the application of Ms Arends is for her re-location, but for how long must she still endure such living conditions?”
City’s spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo, said: “The City is in contact with the residents regarding this matter. The City has put up posters in the building about not smoking in communal areas and only smoking in private and open spaces. House rules are explained and issued to all tenants when they sign their lease agreement at the time of occupation. The Mayor’s stakeholder office has been in contact with Ms Arend on several instances and referred her queries to the Public Housing Department for their attention. The City’s Public Housing Department investigates all complaints at its properties and takes the appropriate action where required.
Mr Tyhalibongo said when renting a City-owned residential property, tenants must abide by the rules of the lease agreement.
“The City is entitled to enforce the conditions of the lease should there be any contraventions.
“Tenants may request transfers to rental housing options that are more appropriate for their needs.
“Ms Arend applied for a transfer on December 2 2022 and her application will be processed in terms of the current approved allocation policy clause 126.96.36.199(d). There is no specific time-frame which Ms Arend must wait before she may be allocated another unit in a different building,” said Mr Tyhalibongo.
Southern Mail spoke to Ms Arend on Monday November 27 and she said there had been no communication after the City sent her an email that they were going to look into the matter.