Demolition site causes concern

The fencing between the clinic and the old housing office site has been damaged, leaving the clinic in a vulnerable state.

Manenberg residents fear the demolition of the former housing office which is under way, is leaving the clinic, situated next to it, in a vulnerable state.

The clinic already had to close its doors temporarily, as its electricity was cut when opportunistic thieves used the demolition as an opportunity to steal underground electric cables.

Along with the clinic, a section of Manenberg Avenue was also left in the dark.

The demolition started last week, but while construction workers were not on site, some locals saw it fit to start breaking down the walls themselves, hoping to salvage some bricks to sell. Some were also seen digging in search of copper.

Christine Jansen, the Manenberg Health Committee secretary, said many organisations had approached the City of Cape Town to make use of the old housing office site over the years, but none of the applications were successful.

“The old housing office has been standing empty for five years. The health committee, Islamic organisations and some churches all applied to use it, but we were all unsuccessful,” she said.

Ms Jansen added: “I don’t understand why the City did not consider any of us, and instead allowed the building to go to ruins. The vacant building was a disaster waiting to happen,”

When asked why the City did not consider the applications to rent the building, Stuart Diamond, mayoral committee member for assets and facilities management, said the City would consider direct requests “only in specific circumstances”.

“The City is legally required to either sell or lease its viable immovable property assets on a competitive basis and only in specific circumstances consider direct requests,” Mr Diamond said. “Since the relocation of the housing office to the new site, the old building was offered for reservation to internal departments. The building was occupied by Safety and Security for a period of time, but eventually vacated the premises due to continuous vandalism and theft. Since then (2015), numerous attempts have been made to have the building re-occupied. It is unfortunate that the building was vandalised.”

The fencing between the clinic and the old housing office has also been damaged, and the garage behind the clinic targeted by thieves. Clinic staff were also being harassed by frustrated patients, according to Ms Jansen.

Veronica Adams, Manenberg Health Committee chairperson, said the residents needing the clinic services and the clinic staff had been negatively affected by this.

“The clients initially had to wait longer to be assisted. Nurses cannot examine the babies in the dark, and the computers were down, so it made it very difficult to work under those circumstances. The nursing staff were being harassed by residents for something that is not their fault. It was decided to close the clinic temporarily and residents must now either walk a very long distance, or take a taxi to the Ruimte Road satellite clinic,” she said.

Mr Diamond said the fencing between the clinic and the old housing office site would be fixed “when the situation allows and subject to budget availability”.

It is also hoped that electricity will be restored within a week.

He could not give an indication of the future plans for the site, only stating that various sustainable options would be investigated.