A meeting was held by Kensington Factreton residents on Wednesday evening, to address the occupation of a derelict warehouse in the area. The residents have expressed outrage, after the building was reportedly converted into 20 apartments, despite no permission being granted for any such construction to take place.
Kenfac Ratepayers Association chairperson, Dawood Essack, said they were first alerted to the incident on Sunday the 4th August, when nearly 100 individuals were ‘offloaded’ to the area via four trucks, before taking up residence at the warehouse.
“We immediately responded to this, and felt that this was an urgent matter. We reported it to the law enforcements and they informed us that because it was not a City of Cape Town building, there was nothing they could do,” he explained.
Essack said they were subsequently referred to the local South African Police Services (SAPS), but said the response had been no better. He claimed SAPS were reluctant to intervene, due to a lack of jurisdiction on the issue.
The following morning, the association sent a letter to City of Cape Town mayor, Patricia de Lille, as well as the areas ward councilor, calling for an immediate evacuation of the building. However, he stressed their main concern was not the occupation itself, but rather the safety of the building’s occupants.
“We as a community and as ratepayers can only alert the authorities to what is taking place, but we are not the authority. Therefore we believe that the City of Cape Town, who in this particular instance are the authority, need to enforce the law,” he said.
Despite having yet to receive an official response from the Mayor’s office, Essack noted they did recieve an email from the cities Environmental Health Department, which highlighted a number of safety issues with the building. Amongst this was the buildings failure to meet basic fire safety requirements, a lack of ventilation and toilets, and the fact that it was in a state of disrepair. The department also noted that they were unable to get into contact with the building’s owner.
On Wednesday evening, Kenfac residents held a meeting outside the warehouse in question. Although the occupants were present, the owner of the building failed to pitch. Essack said a few of the ratepayers were allowed to conduct an on sight inspection, and uncovered that the building only contained two toilets, one entrance, and one exit.
He was also critical of the city, and the property owner’s non-chalant attitude towards addressing the issue.
“Are the City of Cape Town and the landlord not concerned about the safety of these people?” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)