Plumstead residents heave sigh of relief as owner of problem building faces harsh legal sentence

The City of Cape Town welcomes the sentencing handed down to the owner of a problem building in Plumstead on Wednesday, 23 January 2013. 

The owner of the house at 80 Princessvlei Road had repeatedly failed to address the issues on the property, despite multiple interventions by the City.

The City’s Problem Buildings Unit first intervened early last year, following complaints from residents. Several inspections and raids were carried out by the unit, in partnership with the Metro Police. This led to the arrest of several occupants for a range of criminal offences.

The property had no sanitation or electricity, with all wiring and water pipes having been stripped and sold. Street people in the area took to using the property as a place to sleep and there was a proliferation of rubbish and human faeces, resulting in an infestation of flies, cockroaches and rodents.

The owner, who lives in Zeekoevlei, refused to address the multitude of problems and the surrounding neighbours grew increasingly distressed.

City Health, in conjunction with the Problem Buildings Unit, were therefore forced to take the matter to court at the end of 2012. The owner appeared in the Wynberg Magistrates Court several times, with several postponements.

Finally, in consultation with his attorney, the owner pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him. The Senior Prosecutor from the Wynberg Magistrates Court accepted a plea bargain from the owner and his attorney yesterday, 23 January 2013 and the Magistrate of the Municipal Court sentenced him to a R40 000,00 fine or two years imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of five years on the following conditions:

  • · That the accused is not convicted again during the period of suspension.
  • · That all waste and faecal matter be cleared from the property by 18 February 2013. All costs will be for the responsibility of the accused.
  • · That the entire property is treated by a registered pest control company for a period of six months after sentencing.
  • · That the occupants by evicted on or before 28 January 2013.
  • · That the entire property be enclosed by a wall and/or fence on or before 8 March 2013 to prevent any illegal occupants from entering the property. All costs will be for the responsibility of the accused.
  • · That prior to the property being enclosed by a wall and/or fence, the accused shall employ a 24-hour security officer to safeguard the property against illegal occupants. The accused must also provide a suitable chemical toilet for the security officer. All costs will be for the responsibility of the accused.

The Court instructed the City to monitor the situation to ensure that the accused adheres to all of the afore-mentioned conditions.

This sentencing serves as a major breakthrough for the City of Cape Town in its attempts to rid the city of problem buildings.

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