Mystery house fire

The derelict building at 68 Milton Road burnt down early on Thursday morning, January 30.
Police and the fire department are investigating after a fire destroyed one of two derelict houses that have long blighted Goodwood.

Neighbours have watched the houses at 68 and 70 Milton Road being gutted by trespassers since the end of May (“Mess on Milton Road,” Northern News, November 20 2019). 

In the early hours of Thursday last week, they watched 68 Milton Road burn. It is now a charred ruin.

Gerhardus Malherbe owned the two houses before his death in August  2018. The properties were sold last year to Noor Rawoot.

Shortly before he took ownership, the executor of Mr Malherbe’s estate, Andre van Rhyn, told Northern News Mr Rawoot wanted to tear down both houses to build flats.

The City’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said at the time that the City’s Problem Building Unit had been liaising with Mr Van Rhyn over the condition of the two properties.

According to City and Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse, firefighters responded to the call-out at 3.12am on Thursday and the fire was out by 4.56am. No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, although Goodwood police spokesman Captain Wayne Theunis said foul play was not suspected, and it was unknown whether anyone had been in the house at the time of the fire.

Heat from the blaze damaged the gutters, satellite dish, outside wall and fascia boards of a next-door house. The owner, who did not want to be named, said her house alarm, triggered by the fire, had woken her.

She described seeing the flames and then, to her relief, the fire trucks.

“Thank God. The house was far gone; I could be dead,” she said.

A mattress and other debris were still smouldering at 68 Milton Road when Northern News visited the scene later in the day.

Smoke rose from charred floor joists, shower-curtain rings lay scattered near an Electrolux vacuum cleaner and window panes lay stacked neatly on a red-and-brown carpet.

When Northern News called Mr Rawoot on the morning of the fire, he said he could not speak as he was viewing the burnt house. We sent him questions and met him later that day at the property.

He said he had replied to the questions but did not want to be named in a story. He has not responded to the questions we sent him.

The neighbour said that no sooner had the fire trucks left than vagrants had moved into the charred ruins of 68 Milton Road.

According to Goodwood Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association chairman Faizel Petersen, Goodwood Neighbourhood Watch patrollers had seen two men enter the burnt house with suspected stolen property. They were arrested after the watch notified the police.

Captain Theunis confirmed the arrests. According to him, they previously occupied 5 Anderson Road, near Goodwood station.

That property, according to what Mr Petersen told a GRRA meeting last week, has since been fenced off and a security guard has been posted.

Goodwood Neighbourhood Watch chairman Leona van Wyk did not respond to emailed questions by deadline.