Illegal building activity rife in Oakdale

The City of Cape Town has served notices on the owners of several properties in Oakdale for illegal building work, and law enforcement is investigating residents’ allegations that prostitutes are frequenting one of these properties.

Mark Rhoode says he had started noticing construction noise in the early hours of the morning at several houses within walking distance of his Ashtown Street home.

“I have noticed a number of trucks and activity at a few homes right down the road from me and on each corner from my house. After midnight, you can hear construction noises from these houses and I have lost count of the number of people that come in and out of these houses.

“What concerns me is that we have no idea who lives here, and we do not even know the owners of the house, so anything could be happening behind the gates.

“People come in and overnight they build high walls so that we cannot see … what are they doing and how are they allowed to do this construction when we have to follow strict rules when we want to do any sort of renovations on our homes?”

Northern News noticed several trucks and construction workers at 4 Rothmines Road and 14 Teddington Way, but there was no signage identifying the construction firm or explaining what was being built.

At 14 Teddington Way, there is a double-storey building with what appears to be divisions for flats, but there is no sign of parking bays being built.

Mr Rhoode said: “We have no idea how many flats are being built or when they will be finished, as we have not gotten any sort of notice. Also, there are no parking bays in the streets, so we have no idea how this will affect our own parking situation in our own streets.”

Around the corner from Ashtown Street, is 5 St James Street, which, according to residents, is a guest house, but some have expressed concern about the goings-on there.

Antonie Mans said: “About two weeks ago, on a Thursday night, there was a woman walking down the road, and she was shouting and drinking while walking down St James Street. It was the early hours of the morning, and she was disturbing the entire street.

“When I came out to investigate, I saw she went into number 5, and the noise continued until the morning. You often see ladies of the night use this facility, and their pimps are seen standing outside the home or walking around the area.

“It really is not safe for our children to be outside, and a few times there have been incidents where people are seen in our front gardens. So many times we have woken up to find something missing or broken on our properties. There has also been drug paraphernalia and broken bottles found around St James Street.”

Mr Mans also complained about the property at 2 St James Street.

“The house on the corner of St James Street is frequented by many people, and we have heard that it is used as a church and a funeral home.

“A creche that has been in the area since before I moved here had to move to another location because the people who come there just park the entire road full, and they get aggressive whenever somebody tries to approach them.

“On a daily basis, you can see about 13 cars parked in the yard, and a large number is parked in the front. Also, on weekends, the people there burn refuse, and a dark smoke cloud comes from the house and the smell is just unbearable.”

Mr Rhoode said: “On almost a weekly basis, I am in contact with the City of Cape Town and building authorities regarding these houses. At 1 Ashtown Street, they have built student communes in the yard, and there are so many people that visit the house, and, at times, my road seems like it is hosting an event with all the noise and cars parked here.”

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, said the City was aware of the issues raised by the residents.

“1 Ashtown Street has been transformed into a hostel, with multiple residents, and they have also managed to obtain the property next door, with more construction being built and more people moving in. Building plans were submitted for a domestic staff quarter. The plans were found to be zoning compliant and subsequently these were approved in terms of the national building regulations. However, the owner has deviated from the approved building plans, hence a notice in terms of the national building regulations will be served.”

She added that a “cease construction” notice had been served on the owner of 14 Teddington Road in July last year. However, construction had continued and the City would take further punitive measures.

The owners of 4 Rothmines Road and 5 St James Street had also been given notices for deviating from planned construction, Ms Nieuwoudt said, and she added that law enforcement was investigating the allegations about prostitutes using 5 St James Street. The owner of 2 St James Steet was served with a notice in March last year for “unauthorised building work” and was now facing prosecution, Ms Nieuwoudt said.

“Two provisional court dates were allocated for this matter. However, to date, the summons could not be served on the accused at the addresses known to law enforcement.”

Bellville police spokesman Captain Jonathan Blankenberg said arrests had been made in the area but he would not go into further detail, saying only that investigations were ongoing.

The Northern News made several efforts to contact the owners of the properties mentioned in this report, but they proved difficult to trace. Phone numbers we were given for the owners either turned out not to exist or calls went unanswered. We knocked on the doors of the properties, but in those instance where we found someone on the premises, they were foreigners who appeared not to understand our questions.