Flat is falling apart

Gang graffiti and illegal dumping can be seen all over the property at 37 Allison Court, Heideveld.

Residents of Allison Court, Heideveld, fear for their safety because of a severely vandalised, vacant flat, being used by drug addicts and gangsters at all hours of the night.

The flat has also been set alight on three occasions – either deliberately, or by drug users falling asleep while a “galley” (fire) they made continues to burn.

Everything of value in the flat has been stripped, the windows are all broken and illegal dumping and human faeces can be found inside the flat, which neighbours say attracts rats.

During the day it is empty, but in the early morning hours it is occupied by people doing all sorts of illegal activities, like drugs, gambling and disturbing the peace.

Law enforcement barricaded the property in February, but these barriers have since been removed by the illegal occupants.

One of the neighbours said the trouble started when a former tenant started “hanging out with the wrong crowd”.

Soon the flat became a base for those involved in these illegal activities.

“These so-called friends of the former tenant started beating him up and took over the place. We don’t know these people who hang out there. They could very well be armed and dangerous. Every time it is new faces we see. We constantly live in fear,” said one of the neighbours, who wants to remain anonymous.

The residents say they continuously complain to the City of Cape Town’s local housing office, SAPS and Metro Police, but it seems like their pleas fall on deaf ears.

“We don’t know where to go to anymore,” the neighbour said.

Faith Davids said her health was ailing and the stress of the situation caused more harm.

“I’ve had a heart attack and a stroke. I also have undergone a hip replacement operation, and I have asthma. The conditions we live under are traumatising,” she said.

Grant Twigg, the City of Cape Town’s acting mayoral committee member for human settlements, said vacant rental units belonging to the City’s Public Housing Department very often require extensive repairs and maintenance before they can be allocated to the next qualifying applicant.

He added: “The units are therefore barricaded to allow the City’s upgrade and maintenance teams the opportunity to repair these dwellings and to prevent unauthorised or unlawful occupation.

“In this specific instance, the barricades were removed and unauthorised entry was gained to the property and even more damage was caused.

“Although these illegal actions are reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS), the culprits are unfortunately not caught.”

Rumours circulated that the City expects a 90-year-old to
move into the flat, as it is in its current state, but Mr Twigg denied this.

“This is not true. The unit is first being renovated. The tenant, to whom the flat was allocated, will move in when it is ready for occupation.

“The intention is to (move) an elderly person from a top floor unit to the ground floor,” he said.

Mr Twigg urged residents to report unlawful occupancy and vandalism.

He could not give a timeline as to when the flat, at 37 Allison Court, would be fixed.

“The maintenance team is waiting for materials to repair the dwelling before the tenant, to whom the ground floor flat was allocated, can take occupation.

“Plans are in place to repair the unit as soon as is humanly possible,” Mr Twigg said.