VAGRANTS have started to worm their way on to the property of a bricked up derelict house in Bo-Kaap.
The derelict building in Dorp Street continues to raise eyebrows amongst the community, especially the impact is has on a nearby park.
Residents have made allegations of drug dealing and “unsavoury” characters lurking outside the house, located metres away from the Leeuwen Street Park.
Reports of a “squatter camp” also surfaced, but was waved away by the City’s Problem Buildings Unit.
Resident Hassiem Marcus is deeply annoyed about the derelict house and vagrants sleeping on any available space around the property.
“This property is being used by drug dealers and homeless people to set up camp and nothing is being done about this matter,” he says.
Marcus was aware of Law Enforcement inspecting the site for squatters, but claims that the timing of their inspection was off.
“When they arrive at the site, they usually find nothing because they are coming at the wrong times,” he says.
Another resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, fears children being harmed by some of the “criminals” loitering at the house.
She adds that locals are also seen loitering around the house and would rather like to see the property demolished or developed “right away”.
“The children in that park are exposed to all sorts of anti-social behaviour, which stems from that house or the shacks located nearby,” she says.
Richard Bosman, the City of Cape Town’s executive director for Safety and Security, confirms that during an inspection at the house last week they had not encountered any squatters, but saw the remains of a small fire under a tree.
He says: “The Displaced Unit has not received any complaints about street people staying in the Leeuwen Street Park until now.”
He adds that unit has declared 81 Dorp Street as a problem building and instructed the owners to secure the building.
“The owners have informed the unit that they were planning to have the building renovated in order to utilise it as a creche,” says Bosman.
Over the years, the property is believed to have been shifted between owners and now belongs to a community trust.
Osman Shaboodien, the chairperson for the Bo-Kaap Civic Association, is not aware of any squatter camps in Dorp Street, but knows about the number of vagrants found around the building.
He says: “This building does not belong to one individual, but it belongs to the Boorhanol Trust and they must be held accountable for these problems.”
Shaboodien hopes that the proposed upgrade to the Leeuwen Street Park would make “the problem go away”.
Tandeka Gqada, the Mayoral Committee member for Community Services, confirms that ward allocation funding had been made available for the upgrade of the park in this financial year.
“City Parks is in the process of upgrading the park and is already planting trees,” she says.
Bo-Kaap residents queried the amount of time it took the City to address the concerns around the dilapidated house (“Problem house resolution ‘too slow’”, People’s Post, 10 July).
Believed to be around 150 years old, the Georgian-style house is said to have been built in the late 1850s and was used as a homestead by the British. The house once boasted a garden where the British famously hosted parties and referred to it as their “sweeping gardens”.
Ward councillor Dave Bryant explains the building is in a “very bad state” and is contravening a host of stipulations of the City’s Problem Building Bylaw.
The run-down building has rubbish dumped at the back of the property, which poses health risks.
He says: “It is the responsibility of the property owners to maintain this property as per the bylaw and the building has already been reported to the City’s Problem Building Unit on possible dangers to the community.”
With regard to the Leeuwen Street Park, Bryant believes the facility is “well maintained” and is on the brink of receiving a new irrigation system.
However, the City will not clean up on private property, referring to the house, and the property owners would be held accountable.
“The park is not a direct danger to children or other users but I would strongly discourage members of the public from accessing the adjacent private properties, especially at night,” Bryant says.
People’s Post was unable to get hold of the owners, the Boorhanol Trust.