Dawood ‘an eyesore’

2018-11-20 06:00
Residents during a peaceful protest at the Dawood building.

Residents during a peaceful protest at the Dawood building.

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A building in the heart of Simon’s Town has become a cause of concern, and residents are worried that it will have a negative impact on tourism in the area.

The building, called Dawood in St George’s Street, has reportedly become a home for vagrants and rats, as well as an alleged spot for drug peddling.

With the residents’ calls to get something done about the building reportedly falling on deaf ears, a peaceful protest was held in front of the building in order to draw attention to the issue and to get the City of Cape Town to do something about it.The protest was not organised by any association, but the initiative came from various businesses and community members.

The Simon’s Town Business Association (STBA), Simon’s Town Civic Association (STCA) and other residents have lodged complaints about this building with the City Council and Health and Safety Department.

STBA chairperson Liesel Coetzer says all the residents in the area are fed up.

“The building has been like this since 2010. We have been trying to get the City to do something but nothing is being done. Even though many promises have been made, no firm action has been taken by any authority to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this problem. One third of the front shop section of the building was boarded up last year following instruction by the principal building inspector.

“Unfortunately, the rest of the front of the building is exposed and open to vagrants to occupy. A year later, the building is still housing rats and other pests as well as squatters, some of whom are allegedly dealing in drugs and attracting bad elements to the town.

“The whole surrounding area is subject to the stench of human waste while the state of the building is appalling,” says Coetzer.

Coetzer also explains that Simon’s Town is largely dependent on tourism and that having such a building is bad for business. “Simon’s Town businesses rely largely on tourism for their survival and with the tourist season ahead, business owners are deeply concerned. This is in the middle of the town and it can impact our businesses badly. We have been trying to get something done but for years nothing has been done.

“We don’t want to sit and do nothing because if we do that we are allowing other elements to filter through our area. This is about the broken window policy – if we allow this to go on, it look like we don’t care, the decay will spread through our town and this is what we don’t want.

“The Dawood building, which has been an ongoing problem for many years, is not the way we would like to ‘welcome’ visitors to our town,” she says.

Eileen Heywood, Simon’s Town Community Policing Forum chairperson, says the building is a social hazard.

“The City can do something about the building as it is in a nice spot. We have had reports about substance abuse in the building. There is anti-social behaviour, yes, but unless someone is convicted for it we can’t be pointing fingers. However, we are aware of the anti-social behaviour,” she says.

Richard Bosman, executive sirector for safety and security at the City, says: “Complaints have been received and the City is dealing with this matter in terms of the Problem Building bylaw. The owner is responsible to get his/her building up to standard in terms of the bylaw.”

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