Sick of filthy homes

2015-10-20 06:00
Two houses in Benes Street have been severely vandalised and are a nuisance for neighbours.


Two houses in Benes Street have been severely vandalised and are a nuisance for neighbours. PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Residents of Benes Street in Maitland just off Voortrekker Road say two houses in their street have been vandalised so badly that they are eyesores and create a bad image for the area.

The two semi-detached homes have been vacant for the past three months. Residents claim that homeless people have been doing whatever they want with the houses – to the extent that only the walls are left standing. The two houses have been stripped of everything, from the roof to the wooden floor tiles. Bathroom windows and doors have been ripped out. Vandals even stole the gates.

For a while after the last tenants left, a nearby neighbour says he kept his dogs on the properties to watch over the houses, but he gave up as no new tenants moved in.

Apparently that is when vandals started stripping. Each day the neighbours would wake up to more missing doors, roofing and other things. Until only the walls were left.

Over the weeks other residents have been dumping there as well, making the place very filthy.

Residents say the houses are a burden because they have to keep watch that homeless people don’t use it. But this is a difficult task, because it is used all the time. Upon visiting People’s Post witnessed the blankets and pillows used by the homeless who dwell there.

Residents suspect that illegal activities are taking place there since no-one takes care of the properties.

A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity says they can’t take it any more.

“We have tried to contact the owner, but he doesn’t want to do anything about it. We have approached the City to have the houses sold, but they said that was not possible. Our last hope was to have the houses demolished because it’s really bad for us to wake up and see those houses standing like that, but they said they can’t be demolished as they are in a heritage site.

“We don’t know what happens in these houses, but we suspect that bad things are happening there,” he says.

The resident says that proper sleep has become a luxury as the noise is unbearable.
“My dog is restless and barking all the time. We are having sleepless nights, with people walking up and down, talking at the top of their voices and others even fighting.
“It’s a pain to us. We want something done about those houses; we can’t continue to live like this,” he says.

Another resident, who refused to be named, says she can’t sit outside with her children anymore because of the dilapidated state of the houses.

“The smell is so bad. There are flies all over. We can’t live like this; something has to be done. No-one knows what kind of people come here and what they might do to our children on the street. We are not safe.

“We are appealing to those in authority to do something as soon as possible, because seeing these houses like this is just bad. There is so much dirt inside and if nothing is done we will have rats here,” she says.

Jean-Pierre Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, says the City’s problem building unit served a notice to the owner yesterday that it intended to inspect the property. A case file has been opened to have the property investigated in terms of the City’s problem building by-law. Seven days after issuing the notice, the unit will be doing an inspection in accordance with the bylaw.

Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, says the houses do not fall in a heritage area.
“However, the buildings are older than 60 years and a permit is required from Heritage Western Cape (HWC) to demolish the structures. It is a general protection afforded to all 60-year-old buildings. HWC will consider the application and the possible conservation-worthiness of the building.”

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