Westbury residents forced to live in dilapidated buildings

2018-05-10 09:02

Residents from Westbury in Johannesburg, an area overrun by drugs and violence, still have to live in dire and dilapidated buildings. 

Pensioner Pamela James has been living in Hannah flats, more commonly known as the H-block, for more than 30 years.  

James lives with her daughter and four grandchildren in the two-bedroom flat. 

Locals have had to endure power cuts, toilets that do not flush, and knee-high grass.

Home to many young children, the flats are infested with rats, and puddles of sewage water attract flies and street dogs. Waste piles up next to garages. 

Resident Mervin Baartman stands next to the tall grass and the running sewage water. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)


"Look at the conditions that we live in and that is the main reason why we end up in hospitals. There is not water and it is really not nice," James said. 

Wires from her main switchboard are exposed and her geyser is rusted. 

Wires exposed from a switchboard at a flat in Westbury. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

She said there was "nothing positive to say about the flats".

"As you can see, we hang our washing on our balconies. The government must fix and replace everything."

Washing hangs from the balcony where a 15-year-old boy fell from. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

Last year, a 15-year-old boy fell from the first floor and sustained severe brain damage. 

According to residents, the boy slipped and fell because the hand rail of the stairs was loose. 

Read: Man found guilty of killing Westbury toddler

Mervin Baartman said the City would only come every five years to do "touch-ups". 

"They only come election time and do something to get our votes. Our people wash in cold water here daily."

A rusty geyser at one of the Hannah flats in Westbury. (Iavan Pijoos, News24) 

Baartman has been living in the H-Block for the past 16 years. 

On Thursday morning, two ladies who live in the flats were robbed of their belongings while making their way to work. 

"The police are not doing their work. The youngsters are so high...that they rob old people."

Council speaker Vasco da Gama visited the area on Wednesday morning. 

Da Gama said he received several complaints from community members in the area. 

"It has been neglect that has come for a very long time," he said.

Speaker of council Vasco da Gama during his visit to the flats. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

He said the City will seek to attend to the immediate issues first, and then look at the long term to maintain the buildings and the area. 

He urged community members to report all drug-related and crime incidents to local police stations or on the Johannesburg Metro Police Department K9 website. 

Brigette David's brother was gunned down near the flats in 2012. 

Read more: 5 wounded in Westbury drive-by shooting

"A guy from Claremont opened fire on him and his friends at a party. He was shot right through the heart," David said. 

According to David, there have been similar killings in the flats over the years. 

"The council must put up fences all around the flats so that we can at least protect ourselves. Last night (Tuesday) they stole the badge off my car and the lights. All we are asking is just give us proper things."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  housing  |  service delivery

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