A family living near a suspected drug den in Bonteheuwel say they are relieved the City of Cape Town boarded up the flat, but “after living in hell” for more than a year, they still have trouble sleeping.
The City boarded the windows and doors of 7d Candlewood Street two weeks ago after several complaints from residents about drug and gang activity there.
Ward councillor Angus McKenzie said the fight against crime in council houses was an ongoing struggle.
He thanked residents for their involvement and asked them to continue reporting council property being used for drug and gang activity.
“This is the second house that was boarded up within months,” he said. “The first one was late last year in Blombos Street… Drug dealers and gangsters must be aware that the community and I will not tolerate the pain and suffering they are causing. We will use all legal remedies at our disposal to rid our community of these individuals.”
One of the neighbours, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said her mother had landed in hospital and suffered from anxiety because of the conditions they were living under. Gang members visiting the flat to do drugs had threatened the family.
“We were forced to keep our windows closed, as an attempt not to hear their foul language and banging on the walls, night and day. They would hang out from the windows and spew the most despicable language. The house was also in a filthy state, and by the time they were forced to move out, there was not even a bath in the house. All the taps and pipes were also taken out. We were so scared living near them. Whenever law enforcement came to raid the place, they would shout out threats to the neighbours. They said they were going to kill us. We were terrified. It was a living hell,” she said.
Now, she said, they could once again hear what was on the radio or television.
“There is finally peace and quiet and we are grateful. However, we still have trouble sleeping because of our anxieties.”
According to the City, the tenant died early last year, but no death certificate was produced at the housing office.
“Several visits were conducted to get the necessary documents to transfer the tenancy to the tenant’s widow,” a City statement said. “The tenant’s widow was supposed to occupy the unit alone. However, it is alleged that several other people also lived there. Alleged drug- and gang-related activities were carried out inside the unit, and law enforcement raided this flat several times in response to community complaints.
“The tenant’s widow was requested to go to the housing office so that the matter could be addressed. She refused to do so.
“All of the people who were found inside the unit were told to leave as they did not have permission to be there. The tenant’s widow also walked away from the unit. The front door was barricaded on Tuesday January 12, giving the widow the opportunity to visit the housing office and when she did not, the windows were barricaded the next day, as her whereabouts were unknown.
“As the tenant’s widow left the unit vacant and shows no interest in the tenancy, the City has to declare the flat vacant. The unit was barricaded and will more than likely be repaired and allocated to the next applicant on the housing needs register.
“The City’s public housing department thus did everything in its power to assist the tenant’s widow.”