'Endless problems'

2016-08-23 09:51
The abandoned property in Voortrekker Road Maitland where the decomposing body was found earlier this month. Residents in areas affected by derelict buildings are calling for action.

The abandoned property in Voortrekker Road Maitland where the decomposing body was found earlier this month. Residents in areas affected by derelict buildings are calling for action. (Gary van Dyk)

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Residents of Salt River, Maitland and a section in Pinelands are concerned that problem properties are becoming dumping grounds for dead victims after a grisly find in Maitland.

This is after the decomposing body of a woman was found buried under rubble on a property in Voortrekker Road on Tuesday 2 August.

Residents now fear that more of these properties could become dumping grounds for criminals.

Maitland police station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Siswe Mpindwa confirmed the incident but adds that three suspects have already been arrested and remain in custody while further investigation is taking place.

“This is a perfect example of the dangers of these abandoned buildings,” he says.

“A derelict building not only looks bad on the eye but also provides a sleeping place for the homeless. They in turn become victims of criminals who also see these buildings as opportunities to shelter them from the eye of the public and to use drugs and commit other unlawful deeds.

“The discovery of the body is one of those examples. We really want to call on all derelict building owners and leasing tenants to do something about their buildings as it contributes a lot to our high crime in the area.”

Adele Johnson works in the area where the body was found and was so concerned about the situation that she wrote to Lindelo Matya, regional manager of Intersite, the subsidiary of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) that administers their properties.

“There are so many of these buildings across the peninsula and Prasa seems to be ignoring the problems that they are causing,” she says.

“In my letter I asked Matya how Prasa allows buildings and properties to fall into such states of disrepair with absolutely no thought about the people and businesses in the surrounding area, and the ripple effect of the element that is attracted into the area among various other concerns.

“I also reported this specific property to the City of Cape Town Problem Building Unit earlier this year and was told that the matter is being investigated but there is no reply from Prasa.”

In the Pinelands area, near Mutual Station and the fields near Sunrise Circle, Adrian Wallace works and also feels that something should be done with the abandoned or derelict buildings. Luckily I have not been attacked but I have heard from fellow workers who pass these fields that criminal elements hang out in these buildings.

“Some of them have also seen people smoking dagga in them and who knows what other drugs they are using. When they are in that state they are capable of anything and its putting our lives at risk.”

Phaldi van Dieman from Salt River points out that there were many of these building in that area as well.

“They all belong to the railways (Prasa),” he says.

“The people here are tired of complaining because you don’t get any answers. Families living near these problem building have endless problems with break-ins, theft from cars and there have been muggings on a regular basis. These crimes have all increased in the last few years as these buildings were abandoned and no security was provided for them.

“It’s just going from bad to worse.”

At the time of going to print no comment had been received from Intersite or Prasa.

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