The problems with the empty plot, overgrown with bushes and trees and now invaded by vagrants in Sandford Street in Oakdale, is being attended to after a resident lodged a complaint with the department of health.
“Kim Botha complained to Kelly Morkel (environmental health practitioner: area Central-City), who immediately referred the matter for assistance from the various City departments in this regard. A contractor was appointed to mow the site, but further interventions are also required,” said Brendan van der Merwe, councillor for ward 3.
He further said he wrote to the various departments to enquire about interventions from their respective portfolios.
“There is absolutely no law that forces a property owner to develop a residential property within a certain time frame from the date of purchase. The property owner is completely responsible for the maintenance of the property as with any privately-owned residential property,” Van der Merwe said.
After a complaint is lodged a notice is issued to the owner that would provide the owner with 28 days to comply.
“This does not automatically mean that they will adhere to the instruction to clear the property and further action may be required. In many cases property owners do not comply and then the matter goes to court where it may lie for many months and even years, in some cases,” Van der Merwe said.
A property owner is responsible to maintain the vacant erf that they own and ensure that it is clean and not posing as an eyesore to surrounding properties.
“Initially when a complaint is lodged, an investigation will take place and the respective issues identified with regard to the maintenance of the premises. If required a compliance notice will be served on the property owner providing a 28 days notice to comply.
“There is however no law compelling the property owner to secure the vacant premises with a fence or wall or any other structure of this sort. The department of parks have been requested to attend to the fallen tree and I have written to them to ask them when they may be able to assist. This work would require a contractor to be appointed by die City and therefore, will take some time to deal with,” Van der Merwe said.
He also said that the City receives regular complaints about street people bedding down in residential areas and in almost every scenario it appears that the homeless are benefitting from certain hand-outs that they receive in and from certain members of that community.
“These hand-outs may take the form of food, alcohol, cash, blankets, tents and in some cases even mattresses and beds. The City urges residents to give responsibly and has continued to drive this theme through various means and programmes. However, it is a daily event where some residents insist on providing hand-outs to street people thereby ensuring that they manifest themselves close to these ‘opportunities’ causing them to leave their homes and ‘bed down’ within the residential areas where they may be close to receive the next ‘win’.
“Only when these residents begin to manage their waste and hand-outs responsibly, will we be able to make strides in combatting the ‘persons on the street’ challenges that we currently face in the City,” Van der Merwe said.
He added that the street people cannot be a law enforcement solution, there has to be a social intervention.
“The City provides support for people on the street who regularly refuse assistance because they tend to be ‘better off’ where they are supported and enabled by hand-outs,” he said.
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