OVER the past week I have been receiving a number of complaints from residents regarding burnt down houses that are in my ward.
These houses are indeed a problem, as they are now structurally unsafe, and in some cases, are either used as a place where criminal activities take place, or they get inhabited by displaced people. There have also been complaints that on occasion passers-by use these stands as toilet facilities. This means that these properties are extremely problematic and it’s a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. However, for the municipality to intervene it has to be done in accordance with our municipal by-laws.
When there were a whole lot of properties burnt down in Rosettenville just over a year ago, I immediately contacted building control to investigate these properties. The building inspector’s investigators inspected these properties and deemed them to be unsafe and went about serving the notices to the owners. Locating the owners of some of these properties, as well as proving that the notice was served to them, has been problematic. Some of these owners have responded to the inspectors promising to fix their buildings while there have been applications to have some of the other properties demolished.
The environmental health department has also been investigating these properties due to the unhygienic state that most of them are in. Where the owners have been located these have been issued with notices to clear their stands as they are posing a health risk to the other residents that reside in the area. The City’s EMS department has also sent inspectors to investigate the safety of the structures on these properties.
The group forensics department, which is headed up by General Shadrack Sibiya, has been investigating the legal means that some of the alleged owners used to acquire these properties. They are also investigating what some of these properties were used for in the past, as some of them were allegedly brothels and drug dens.
I have also escalated my concerns about the current state of these properties to the Region F director and to the MMC for Region F Clr Reuben Masango. It is quite concerning that some of the owners have not shown any intent to do anything with their properties for over a year now. Perhaps the city should start looking at steps to take over some of these properties, just like we have seen happen with some of the abandoned buildings in the CBD.
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