The City of Cape Town’s Safety & Security Directorate has officially handed over the site for the first ever demolition of a listed problem building.
The Problem Building Unit has worked tirelessly to address the issues emanating from 6 Bellona Crescent in Somerset West which featured on its top 10 list of most problematic buildings. The property was left vacant a number of years ago and has steadily deteriorated as a result of illegal occupation, theft, vandalism and other anti-social behaviour.
It was officially declared a problem building in 2014. Numerous attempts to ensure compliance by the owner came to naught, prompting the City to take further legal action. Section 7 of the Problem Building By-law allows the Unit to repair, renovate, repaint, alter, close, demolish and remove all refuse or secure any problem building, at the cost of the owner, should the owner fail to comply with instructions to do so themselves within a specific period.
‘The necessary permissions were obtained nearly two years ago, but we waited in vain for the property owner to make a move. Eventually we took it upon ourselves to try and resolve the issue and the day has finally arrived. Once the remnants of the building have been demolished and the site cleared of all the rubbish, we will continue our efforts to recoup the costs of the operation and all other debt owing to the City,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
Currently, the City’s Problem Building Unit is investigating 1 292 of cases of possible problem buildings. Problem buildings are found across the city, however, Bellville, Parow, Somerset West and Wynberg are some of the most problematic areas. Generally, buildings at risk of becoming problem properties are those where property owners have died or are absent (overseas or living elsewhere). In some cases, they are rental properties that have been left unchecked by property owners. Vacant or unsupervised properties are at risk of attracting illegal occupants or criminal elements and of becoming havens for anti-social behaviour.
“It is not sustainable for the City to clean up after every single errant property owner. We simply do not have the funds, capacity or resources for it. I therefore appeal to property owners to quite literally keep their houses in order,” added Alderman Smith.