Fed up locals torch 'problem' Hout Bay building

2015-07-15 12:54
The building that was set alight. (Roscoe Jacobs, MyNews24)

The building that was set alight. (Roscoe Jacobs, MyNews24)

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Cape Town - A case of arson is being investigated after a deserted council building in Hout Bay was set alight on Tuesday night, allegedly by local residents fed up with it being used as a base for criminals.  

City of Cape Town Fire Services spokesperson Theo Layne told News24 the fire was started by residents of Mandela Park at about 18:20.

“As firefighters were extinguishing the blaze, people were setting other sections of the building alight,” he said.

Burning tyres were rolled onto the property and it took 45 minutes for the fire to be extinguished. 

The roof has caved in, but the rest of the building is still standing.

The house, which is owned by the City’s Transport for Cape Town department, is  a base of operation for muggers plaguing the Main Road, Hout Bay Civic Association secretary Roscoe Jacobs said.

The action was taken by residents from “across the greater Hout Bay area”, he insisted, as the City failed to take responsibility for their property.

Jacobs previously told News24 that more than 20 muggings have taken place near the house over the past six months.

In the most recent incident, a 27-year-old Congolese man was stabbed to death after being accosted by three men in a suspected robbery.

According to locals, contact crime in the vicinity is common.

Jacobs said their safety fears had been reported to council and no action had been taken in the past four years.

“This community felt it needed to take action because the City failed to take responsibility.”

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith has slammed the arson attack, saying  council resources had been wasted in responding to the blaze.

Residents had also interfered with the firemen as they executed their duties, he said.

“Lives were unnecessarily put at risk as the fire could easily have gotten out of hand.” 

Smith said the Transport for Cape Town department had been served with a notice to clean up their property and a demolition order had already been secured. Money has also been made available by his department to have the property boarded up within the coming weeks.

“As there are people squatting on the property, we have to get an eviction order to have them removed before the house can be destroyed.

“By setting the house alight, they put the lives of the people living there in danger. Lives could have been lost.”

Jacobs however said, “If this was privately owned building they would be issuing  fines left right and centre. But because it is their building they are dragging their feet.”

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires  |  crime

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