House in Humerail ‘a serious health risk’

This house in the Humerail area has become a health risk to the surrounding community, who has been battling to address the issue for nearly seven years.             Photo:ANIKA DE BEER
This house in the Humerail area has become a health risk to the surrounding community, who has been battling to address the issue for nearly seven years. Photo:ANIKA DE BEER

AFTER nearly seven years, the residents of Humerail are finally fed up with asking for help regarding the run-down house that seems to be the source of many of their problems.

According to Leon Albertyn, who lives only two houses away from the property in question, the last time anyone really lived there was in 2012 before it was sold.

“The house has been empty since then. The property belongs to a doctor in Uitenhage and he is not interested in doing anything about that place. We have placed several calls to him, written letters to Dean Biddulph (Ward 2 Councillor) and the municipality, to no avail,” Albertyn said.

“The doctor bought the house and did nothing with it.”

He showed PE Express a number of emails and letters addressed to Biddulph that date back to February 28, 2012 regarding the state of the property and the effect it has on the surrounding community.

“Biddulph took the matter to the municipality and they came out one day to look at the property. That was in 2014.”

According to Albertyn, the house also sustained severe damage in a fire almost two years ago that was caused by squatters who set up camp there.

“The more we complain, the more we call the police, the DA (Democratic Alliance), the municipality, the less of a reaction we get.

“They (DA) said they would take the matter up with the owner of the house. Nothing happened. In December, they came and removed a bit of garbage from the house. But the squatters came back.”

Albertyn said the state of the house has also contributed to a significant rise in crime in the neighbourhood.

“The entire Humerail is complaining about that house. We have picked up home-made weapons in the bushes here. A person feels threatened,” he said. “We have also had several break-ins since 2012. The last break-in at my house was about four months ago.”

He said an employee at the office park, located across the street from his house, was also robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight last year while she was on her lunch break.

“As taxpayers, we are entitled to a neat and safe environment. When the wind blows just right, in our direction, you catch the stink of that place as the people do their thing there.

“Just look at what it looks like in there. It is enough for diseases, snakes, cockroaches and mice to breed. I can’t tell you how many mice I find in my house. It is a serious health risk.

“If the municipality is not going to start addressing the issue, then I just don’t know what to do anymore.

“It is the municipality’s duty to force the owner to clean this place up,” he said.

Biddulph said, “I am acutely aware of the property to which you refer.

“The specific challenge relates to the fact that the property is not a municipal building but is privately owned.

“As such, the powers of law enforcement in this regard are unfortunately limited.”

According to Biddulph, he has, on numerous occasions, requested inspections of the property by the health inspector, building inspectorate, the SAPS and others for health and safety inspections and for the removal of illegal occupants.

“The metro has yet to promulgate a functioning problem building by-law which will assist greatly in dealing with problem properties, such as these.

“This by-law has been drafted and now has to go out on a process of public participation before it can be approved by council.

“I have again written on January 15 to the building inspector to request an assessment for a possible demolition order given the poor state of the buildings on the property.”

  • Several attempts by the PE Express to contact the owner of the house were unsuccessful.
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