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City to take legal action over “eyesore”

The City of Cape Town has indicated its intention to prosecute the Department of Public Works (DPW) for non-compliance after failing to adhere to notices served regarding a “problem house” in Somerset West.

DistrictMail earlier reported on the abandoned house, owned by the department, on the corner of Andries Pretorius Street and Jubilee Crescent, Somerset West, illegally invaded by vagrants, and seen as bringing social ills to the neighbourhood (“Move to declare derelict house a ‘problem’”, DistrictMail, 19 October 2017).

Residents have lodged continual complaints about vagrancy, alleged criminal activities and disturbance with various authorities. The house, which has officially been vacant since October 2016, has also been vandalised by trespassers.

Ward councillor Greg Peck earlier said council would soon commence the process to have the house declared a problem building.

According to the City’s Executive Director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman, the Problem Building Unit has since issued the department with a contravention notice.

“The case will be handed over to [our] legal department for prosecution for non-compliance of notices served,” he said.

Meanwhile, Thami Mchunu, spokesperson for the DPW, said the department is aware of the problem, and that it’s being attended to.

“Clearing requests were logged for this property, and regular site inspections done by our security officials,” she said. “The property forms part of our vacant vandalised properties.”

Mchunu confirmed the house had been (officially) vacant for almost two years after it was allocated to a client who no longer needed it.

She said the property would be advertised through a tender process “to give all interested parties a fair opportunity to apply for leasing the property.”

DistrictMail’s attempts to get further comment from the department on the projected time-frames for resolving the issue, given that the illegal occupants would first have to be removed and the house refurbished or restored.

The newspaper also enquired about measures the department would put in place to ensure the house is not invaded by illegal occupants again once renovations are over.

The department had failed to respond to questions at the time of going to print.

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