Upset over run-down Manenberg house

Residents near this house at 27 Venster Street in Manenberg, want it to be declared a problem building.

People living next to a run-down house in Manenberg say it’s giving them sleepless nights while the City fails to act.

When the owners of the Venster Street house died, their children let it fall into ruin, becoming a den for drug users and prostitutes, claim those who live nearby.

Monica Hendricks, 77, who lives in one half of the semi-detached property, says she has “been everywhere for help” without success.

“I moved in here with that family 39 years ago. Things went downhill when both parents and their daughter died a few years ago. It is the brothers who still live in the house who are creating all these problems. I cannot sleep at night – they run up and down the stairs and make so much noise with their banging. When I speak to them about it, they swear at me. They make fires, collect and store scrap in the yard. They also took out the vibracrete around the house to sell it.

“There is no plumbing or electricity in that house – everything has been stolen. I went to the rent office and they say they can’t help as it is a privately-owned property. I am still waiting on Law Enforcement to come.

“Just three weeks ago, we received rat poison after I complained to the health inspector. The yard with all the dirt attracts these rodents. I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Her son, Frederick Hendricks, said he had reported the matter to the City of Cape Town.

“They told me there is nothing they can do about it, which I find very strange, because there is a by-law dealing with problem buildings,” he said.

Emily Daniels said the problem property was making them ill.

“The first time Ms Hendricks and I went into that house in the condition it is in now, she became ill. She worked herself up so much, that she now stutters – she never had this before. They are terribly rude – we try to speak to them, but they hurl abuse at us. That place is filthy.”

Another resident, Nadia Sulaiman, said smoke from fires on the property aggravated her grandchildren’s asthma.

“They make fires every day. Now that they have taken down the vibracrete to sell, the rubbish in the yard blows onto our properties. ”

Allie Mansoor, from the Manenberg and Heideveld Community Building Team, said he had tried to help.

“We have been in contact with officials since April. I was told the owner will be warned to clean and fix the place. However, they cannot issue a notice to the deceased. Our ward councillor, Aslam Cassiem, is also aware, and he said the legal process is taking momentum now. We have been waiting for momentum since last year. The brothers received warning upon warning, but nothing is happening. A fine won’t work, because they owe so much money for rates and water in any case. This house is a health risk and danger for our children.”

Mr Cassiem said he had reported the matter several times to the City’s health department.”I know the situation is very frustrating – even for me,” Mr Cassiem said.

He said the executor of the deceased’s estate had told him the property was for sale.

The Athlone News tried to get comment from the brothers, but we were sworn at and chased off the property.

Law Enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said complaints needed to be logged in order for his department to investigate.

The City’s Problem Building By-Law does not specifically address the issue of deceased estates, but it says those ignoring a municipal notice face a fine up to R300 000, a three-year prison sentence, or even both.

Manenberg police spokesman Captain Ian Bennett said the area in and around Venster Street was a hot spot for gang violence and properties where scrap was collected and stored usually attracted other “unsavoury” or illegal activities.

Residents can phone 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline to register a complaint at Law Enforcement.