For the past 22 years, Silla Meerka and her family have been living next to an open piece of land in Oak Lane, Eerste River.
Though there is nothing odd about having to live alongside an open field, Meerka and her family have been dogged by a range of issues caused by the uninhabited piece of land.
Among these issues is the dumping of household goods and refuse, garden refuse and dead dogs, as well as strange people hanging around.
“The past few years have been bad. Dead dogs get dumped here, causing a bad stench in my house. My husband has had to go and bury the dogs,” she says.
Meerka’s back door faces the open land and when cooking she says she first has to spray insect repellent otherwise the flies will swarm around her food.
Meerka and her husband have over the years made many suggestions regarding the land, to the ward councillor. “We even offered to buy the land,” she says. They were however informed that should they buy the land, they would not be allowed to build on it. “How can we purchase land and not be allowed to build on it?” she asks.
They have also suffered two break-ins. In 2016 their personal belongings, including their daughter’s matric ball dress, was stolen and last year all their electrical appliances were taken. Although they managed to get most of their belongings back, Meerka says the invasion of their privacy is the worst. “The perpetrators managed to enter our yard because of how high the dumped sand is stacked alongside our wall,” says Meerka.
The family has also suggested that the City place two containers for dumping, which can be emptied on a monthly basis. However, nothing has come from their attempts to ensure that the land is cleaner and safer.
“My husband has been assaulted twice because he wanted to stop people from dumping on the land,” she says.
Meerka says they have also seen three men go onto the field with a woman. “When we went around to help the woman, she refused to lay charges against the men,” says Meerka.
Despite various attempts to have the land turned into a useful space, she says their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. “Even just to keep the land clean, we need to call the City to come and clean every time,” she says.
“People might think our complaints are petty but they do not live here. Something has to be done. Why must we first wait until people come and squat here before something can be done?” she asks.
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