City cleans up at problem house

The City of Cape Town has spent more than R26 000 to clear rubble and brick up parts of 13 Hillview Street, Parow Valley, after a fire gutted the house in 2014.

The house has been empty since, and frustrated residents claim homeless people have moved in, giving them sleepless nights (“Hillview Street blues,” Northern News, May 25). According to the residents, the owner of the house fled after the fire. The City declared it a problem building in 2015, and residents want it demolished.

Peter Abrahams lives in Hillview Street with his wife and three children. He said Parow Valley residents’ quality of life was suffering because of the dilapidated house.

“We have to watch every step we make because of the people that now hang around in the streets,” said Mr Abrahams.

He believes the City has done all it can and that it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure the house is kept clean and safe.

Mr Abrahams said he no longer let his children play outside because of dishevelled strangers who roamed the area during the day and dossed down at night at the abandoned house.

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At night, he said, residents battled to sleep because of the racket coming from the property.

“We don’t know what to do. This house needs to be demolished. We are scared to get involved, as we don’t know what those people who live there are capable of.”

Michelle Petersen, who has lived in Parow Valley for about five years, is tired of hearing about all the bad things happening in the area.

She said the Hillview Street house had been giving her “grey hairs” ever since the fire.

“We all work so hard, and all we want is to come home to a peaceful evening and rest, but that is not possible here in Parow Valley. They are noisy, they drink, they fight… and we and our families are at the receiving end. This is not fair.”

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the City had billed costs to secure the property to the owner’s rates account, but these had yet to be recouped.

“Attempts to secure the building have not been entirely successful, as illegal occupants continue to gather there. Law enforcement agencies can respond to complaints, but, short of making the property completely inaccessible or demolishing it, illegal occupants will continue to return. The Problem Building Unit is now attempting to have the property fenced in and has bricked up all other points of entry,” said Mr Smith.

The City was seeking legal advice on applying to the courts to demolish buildings in instances where they were structurally unsound and threatened public safety.

“We have done everything within our power to try and remedy the situation, including seeking alternative accommodation for the people found occupying the property – even though this is the responsibility of the property owner,” said Mr Smith.

Joe Mallie, chairman of the Parow Valley Community Neighbourhood Watch, said the house was a growing headache, and the watch had received many complaints about it.

He said the homeless people returned after the authorities chased them away.

“The neighbourhood watch do regular patrols, but we do not get assistance from the community.

We want the community to get involved,” said Mr Mallie

“The people of Parow Valley should take back the streets and remove crime and grime out of the area. Keeping Parow Valley safe and clean is the responsibility of all residents,” said Mr Mallie.