Deathtrap building still standing

2016-06-08 06:00
Isaac Adams, councillor in the Korsten area, at the old Walkims building in Highfield Road Korsten. Photo: THEO JEPTHA

Isaac Adams, councillor in the Korsten area, at the old Walkims building in Highfield Road Korsten. Photo: THEO JEPTHA

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THE dilapidated Walkims building in Korsten which became the concrete tomb of a teenage boy last year, still stands out like a sore thumb in Highfield Road.

Initially, the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality was apparently going to demolish the building on the day that the body of Renaldo Burches (14) had to be retrieved from underneath a heap of rubble when a wall caved in on top of him.

Renaldo and a friend were busy collecting bricks to sell for extra income in October last year.

“Today, even after the death of one of our children, the dilapidated building is still here and the life of another person could be claimed,” said Isaac Adams, a councillor in the area.

Municipal spokesmen at the time said it was a “tough battle” to demolish a building without the consent of the owner.

More than half a year later the building, with its remaining walls and lots of bricks and rubble, is still unchanged.

According to Adams the “so-called battle” should be simple.

“The law stipulates clearly: If the owner of a property cannot maintain or keep it safe, the municipality will do it on the owner’s behalf and send the bill to the owner.”

He said the municipality could possibly get R300 000 for the property if it is appropriated, while the owner has R850 000 debt in rates.

Mthubanzi Mniki, municipal spokesperson, said the municipality’s legal department and housing department are handling the situation.

“It is still too early to say what will become of the building.”

Mniki did not respond to questions about a timeframe for the process.

But residents hope that the municipality will soon come to their rescue.

“The building is a nest of evil things,” said Mira Classen, a resident of Glendinning Street.

She said apart from the death of Renaldo, the building accommodates drug users and sex workers.

“The property has so much potential. It is in the middle of the area, close to everything. It can rather be used to build an internet café or youth centre for our children,” Classen said.

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