Not a place to live

2015-09-15 06:00
A toilet used by the tenants of a building at the corner of 2nd Street and 4th Avenue in Kensington.


A toilet used by the tenants of a building at the corner of 2nd Street and 4th Avenue in Kensington. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Kensington residents in Second Street and 4th Avenue say a building at the corner of their streets is a disaster waiting to happen.

The building has two floors and, it is estimated, more than 32 rooms. It is unknown how many people live there as a number of people are seen coming and going.

At the bottom of the building is a panelbeating shop.

Concerned residents nearby say the situation at the building has gotten out of hand over the years. The residents complain about illegal activities, such as prostitution and drug smuggling. They say the people staying in the building are noisy and unruly and they fight.

Some of the people are still active at odd hours of the day and come in and out of the building at 03:00 in the morning.

Residents have called police when they saw illegal activities but allege the authorities never came.

Apart from all this the building houses three churches.

For years, nearby residents say they have called on authorities to act as the building is unsuitable for people to live in.

The residents believe that the building should have been condemned as unsafe for inhabitants. But people are still living there.

Sedick Pandit, one resident who is fed up, says the situation is out of hand.

“How can people be staying in a condemned building and the City does nothing about it? This place is a risk. We can’t deal with the noise. They don’t have toilets and water pipes, so they are digging trenches in the pathways, which is unacceptable. We don’t know how to deal with this anymore.

“My worry is that we are at the doorstep of the problem, suffering. Our kids come here to buy drugs and, as long as the building is run like this, there is nothing that we can do. If this continues this area will end up being a slum and this is the last thing that we want.

“We have tried to get the authorities to look into it, but we are still waiting. We have called on the City but they have done nothing at all; we have to sort out this mess ourselves,” he says.

The building apparently has only one toilet and a bathroom. There is a twin sink that is used by everyone.
People living there say they pay at least R2000 a room, which includes water and electricity. The water and electricity are cut off every now and again.

Inhabitants say they are paying despite the appalling conditions because they need a place to hide their heads.

James Onohluke, who stays in the building, says he wanted a place to stay but it was the worst mistake he made in his life.
“The place is filthy dirty. We are paying a lot of money; we don’t even have proper toilets or bathrooms. We have called on the landlord to clean up the place or get it renovated but we have gotten nowhere with that. The place is so bad but now I have nowhere to go; that’s why I’m here,” he says.
Miranda Tal, another tenant, says it is the worst place, but it’s difficult to get another place to stay.

“I have been looking for another place to stay with no luck. I didn’t want to be homeless. The toilet and the bathroom are so dirty. I don’t even enter the bathroom. The washing line area has become a toilet because no-one wants to use the toilet. People have to jump over faeces when they are going to dry their clothes, which is disgusting. No matter how much we complain the landlord is not even bothered; all he wants is his money at the end of the month,” she says.

Jimmy Xalipi, a KenFac community leader, says the safety of people is at risk.

“The issue here is not about people staying there but their safety. What if the building falls down and they die? It’s not suitable for people to be living there. If the owner wants to put people there, he must renovate it and make it a proper place. People can’t be staying in here like animals. There are other concerns that have to be dealt with and we are calling on the City to act now,” he says.

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, says the building has not been condemned.
“The City of Cape Town’s planning and building development management department is in the process of instituting High Court proceedings against the property owner to remedy the unlawful aspects of this building.
“All matters relating to allegations of anti-social behaviour need to be referred to the police,” he says.

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