‘Neighbours ruined our street’

2015-06-02 06:00
A sneak peek into the property in Milner Road in Maitland which has seven wendy houses in one yard.

PHOTO: 
Tiyese Jeranji

A sneak peek into the property in Milner Road in Maitland which has seven wendy houses in one yard. PHOTO: Tiyese Jeranji

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For more than 20 years the residents of Milner Road in Maitland have lived together peacefully, until a drastic change which has left them wary to be at home.

Five years ago things turned unneighbourly because of a property which has become an apparent den of crime.

The property close to the corner of the road is fenced. Behind the big gate live more than eight families.

The property is looked after by two ex-convicts who have been in and out of prison for various crimes.

The main house has been sub-divided with three doors. There are seven wendy houses in the yard.

Residents claim that their street has become nothing but a bad sight for them.

Due to the increased number of people living on that property they claim they can’t live peacefully in their own homes.

The noise is unbearable and the people there fight constantly. Drugs are being sold and they use kids to facilitate the deals.

The property’s residents entertain the wrong type of crowd, so much so that street residents are too scared to park their cars on the street at night. They are afraid that the visitors will steal their cars’ light bulbs which they use to smoke drugs.

To add salt to the wound the property dwellers are now breeding dogs. The neighbours say they can’t sleep.

No lifeThe neighbours have turned to ward councillor Brian Watkyns for help but without success. They have also called health inspectors, building inspectors, law enforcement and the police but nothing is being done to take away their misery.

One resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says she doesn’t even enjoy the peace at her home anymore.

“We have tried to report it and follow all the necessary procedures to get help but we don’t see any progress. We are frustrated and we can’t even sleep at night because even at 02:00 or 03:00 you hear people knocking and talking at the top of their voices. The fights go on every day and they knock each other on the walls, leaving us awake all night. We can’t continue to live like this – something must be done,” she says.

She adds that if one day she decides to sell her house no-one will want to but it because of the way the neighbours are.

“No-one would want to stay here. This is not conducive for a family. It’s a health risk and all the inspectors have been here and they have seen it but nothing is being done. I have lost count of how many police raids have been done there but still they continue with their activities. It’s frustrating to the point where I’m on treatment for my nerves so that I can cope with this torture,” she says.

Another concerned resident, who also would not give her name for fear of being victimised, says those in authority have failed them.

“We have done everything. We are tired; we want something to be done. It’s like the officials are scared of them. We are even scared to go out into our street because of their ugly activities. We are also not safe because we see a lot of people coming. We have explored all the communication channels but no-one cares to attend to the issue which has been going on for years,” she says.

InvestigationIt is alleged that each family on the property pays R2000 a month for rent but that doesn’t stop them from begging for water from their neighbours and bypassing electricity.

Watkyns says he is aware of the matter.

“A report has come to me and I have put in a request to look at the building, to investigate health issues as well as possible overcrowding. It has to be investigated but I’m aware of it as the complaint was sent to me,” he says.

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, says the City’s planning and building development management department is attending to this matter which is ongoing.

“After numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact the property owner, the department sent a registered mail on 24 February. However, it was returned unclaimed. Following further unsuccessful attempts, eventually a family member of the property owner signed for the notice, which was served to obtain the necessary written approval for the four wendy houses on the property within a period of 60 days. As the City is yet to receive the application, the legal process is underway to force compliance,” he says

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