‘Drug dens’ weeded out

2016-05-17 06:00

Manenberg Police have helped the City of Cape Town weed out suspected drug dens in both Heideveld and Manenberg.

Led by Major Wynand Muller, four high profile evictions have been executed over the last six months.

“We have been approached by many residents of certain areas, especially in Heideveld and Manenberg, where the people say their neighbours are selling drugs and are using drugs on the property; and that they can’t sleep and they cannot take it anymore.

“We started with operations at these premises and have been going on for years and years with this. We had a major one which we got an eviction order, but the people decided to move out on their own in Jonkershoek Road,” says Muller.

He states that police have repeatedly found illegal drugs such as mandrax, heroin and tik. Muller says that a strong case had been built up over a number of years.

“It is different people who are being arrested at the same address. The address in Jonkershoek has been frequently visited by gang members, now if the guy is arrested today for drugs, the next time it is someone else. The City then takes them to court, because we report the successes and all the actions that we have had and then they take legal action against their tenants,” adds Muller.

According to the City, the address in Jonkershoek Road, Heideveld, was vacated by the former tenant in March before the eviction could be carried out by the Sheriff of the Court for anti-social behaviour and illegal activities.

“It must be emphasised that the City, as with any other government agency, has to operate according to the laws and policies that it is governed by,” states Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s Mayco member for human settlements.

“To ensure good governance, the City’s rental units are managed in terms of Council-approved policies.”

She explained that these policies relate to the Agreement of Lease contraventions such as non-payment of rent, unlawful occupation, anti-social behaviour as well as the illegal erection of structures.

Eviction orders can only be granted by a court of law, but that a legal application for an eviction order is viewed as a last resort. Once a dwelling is vacated either willingly by the occupants or forcibly by the sheriff, it will then be leased to the next qualifying applicant on the City’s housing database.

“Unlawful occupation is prevalent within housing estates and encourages queue-jumping which the City cannot allow. Some applicants on the City’s housing database have been waiting for more than 25 years to be accommodated and allowing others to queue-jump by illegally occupying the City’s rental stock deprives law-abiding citizens of a housing opportunity,” adds Van Minnen.

An unlawful occupant is a person who:
. has moved into a vacant dwelling without Council’s authorisation, or
. has forced the tenant out of his/her dwelling, or
. has been left behind by a vacating tenant or when the tenant dies and is not a family member of the original household (includes families living in backyard structures).

“There are very good reasons as to why illegal occupation is dealt with in a certain manner and that are: firstly to protect the integrity of the system and secondly to guard against the illegal occupation of property which steals the opportunity from a rightfully accredited beneficiary,” she explains.
The Unlawful Occupation Policy stipulates that for an unlawful occupant to be considered for regularisation, they had to have been in occupation prior to 1 March 2006. This still gives the unlawful occupant an opportunity to be regularised should they meet the criteria.

“The City cannot condone any illegal and criminal activity on its properties or. rental units. Tenants are therefore encouraged to report such anti-social behaviour to the South African Police Service for their investigation. If tenants are found to be involved with criminal activity on City property, the City needs to take the necessary action, not only to honour the lease agreement in place but also to ensure a safer living environment for the other tenants in the vicinity,” concludes Van Minnen.

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