Blaze sparks concern

2015-05-05 06:00
A man walks through the supermarket in Ocean View which was engulfed in flames last week. 

PHOTO: 
MONIQUE DUVAL

A man walks through the supermarket in Ocean View which was engulfed in flames last week. PHOTO: MONIQUE DUVAL

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Asupermarket fire in the Ocean View central business district (CBD) has ­intensified worry over the derelict buildings.

According to a report by Theo Layne, City fire and rescue services spokesperson, the fire started just after 23:00 on Wednesday 15 April. It took two fire engines and one water tanker to extinguish the blaze. He says no-one was in the building at the time.

The fire also gutted the Ocean View Christian Church. Congregation members could be seen crying and salvaging their belongings the next morning.

Councillors Patricia Francke and Simon Liell-Cock visited the scene and met with the attorney representing the owner of the ­supermarket.

Francke became embroiled in a heated ­argument with an alleged thief who was seen removing scrap metal from the burnt supermarket.

Onlookers explained the supermarket had a bakery and the equipment was being stolen by alleged drug addicts.

People’s Post witnessed how more than 10 men and women carried away metal baking equipment in trolleys and bins.

As they looted the store, other residents stood watching in disbelief.

Francke admonished two thieves. “You can’t just come and take things here. That doesn’t belong to you. I am going to phone the police and report you,” she shouted.

One of the men got angry and told the councillor he was only taking equipment because others were.

The buildings which make up the derelict CBD have been a sore point in the mountainside community for several years as residents believe it could be used better.

In earlier reports the Ocean View Civic Association have claimed the buildings are home to a range of “seedy characters” involved in gangsterism, drug dealing and prostitution.

The buildings belong to a man who lives outside Ocean View and the association explained they were unsuccessful in getting hold of him.

The owner has subsequently died and it is unclear who the current owner is.

Attorney Craig Johnston was on the scene and confirmed he acted on behalf of the owner.

When approached for comment he said he would lay charges at the police station.

He explains the buildings are a security problem and he would look into the possibility of having the buildings secured and then demolished.

Over the last two weeks residents have also raised the alarm about the old cinema building which has had its roof removed.

Residents claim thieves come in the night and steal the roof sheets. However, when they reported the matter to police they were informed a case could not be opened because they were not the owners.

Asked about the ownership of the building, Johnston says: “I can see now how bad it is. The ownership is a complicated matter”.

According to mayoral committee member for finance Ian Neilson, a history of debt management action and legal action taken for non-payment led to payment arrangements for this building.

“The City was advised by the debtor’s attorney that the owner is deceased and the sole beneficiary is a minor. The accounts have been handed over for legal action, that could lead to a sale in execution, depending on the status of the estate and the progress made in winding up the estate.”

The cinema was declared a problem building in March. According to City executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman it was declared for being abandoned, derelict, unsightly, unhealthy and objectionable, with alleged criminal activity.

“It is also illegally occupied and it poses a health risk with the accumulation of waste.”

The municipality has also taken the matter to court after a notice was issued. Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, says the notice related to safety requirements.

The matter is being heard at the Simon’s Town Municipal Court and has been reprimanded to Tuesday 23 June.

V

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