SABC could fall foul of slum­lord by­law

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - HE­LEN BAM­FORD

THE PUB­LIC broad­caster will be among the slum­lords tar­geted by the City of Cape Town un­der a new draft by­law which aims to sort out prob­lem build­ings.

The SABC owns Rock­lands Vil­las in Sea Point, a row of 12 flats be­hind the SABC build­ing which has stood empty for years and is now in a state of dis­re­pair and home to drug dealers and crim­i­nals.

The may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for safety and se­cu­rity, JP Smith, yes­ter­day de­liv­ered a copy of the by­law to the SABC, which has con­sis­tently thumbed its nose at neigh­bours, whose com­plaints have fallen on deaf ears.

Last year Nom­fundo Mpuntsha, re­gional gen­eral man­ager of the SABC, told Week­end Ar­gus it in­tended sell­ing the flats as soon as they had been ren­o­vated.

A ten­der was be­ing put to­gether and would soon be ad­ver­tised, she said. There has been no sign of this.

Smith said the by­law gave “se­ri­ous teeth” to the city for the first time for deal­ing with prob­lem build­ings.

Once it is gazetted, prob­a­bly early next year, slum­lords could find them­selves be­hind bars or fac­ing fines of R20 000 or more if they fail to clean up their build­ings.

An­other no­to­ri­ous build­ing which will come un­der the spot­light is Se­na­tor Park in Long Street, where Uni­ver­sity of Cape Town stu­dent Jef­frey Web­ster was held hostage ear­lier this year.

The dif­fi­culty is that of the 168 unit own­ers, only 23 live in the run-down build­ing, which has been red-lined by banks.

This means banks will no longer of­fer mort­gage bonds for apart­ments in the block.

But un­der the by­law, in a sit­u­a­tion where the owner is not avail­able or miss­ing, the ten­ant can be held li­able.

The by­law states that the def­i­ni­tion of the owner of a prop­erty has been ex­panded to in­clude “any­one who de­rives any ben­e­fit from the build­ing which in­cludes peo­ple oc­cu­py­ing the build­ing with or without the owner’s con­sent”.

Smith said the by­law aimed to en­force re­spon­si­ble prop­erty own­er­ship.

The draft by­law not only makes pro­vi­sion for a build­ing to be de­clared a prob­lem build­ing but gives the coun­cil the power to fix it up on the own­ers’ be­half and charge them for it.

Capeto­ni­ans have un­til De­cem­ber 7 to com­ment on the draft by­law.

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDSBERG

EYE­SORE: Sea Point’s Rock­lands Vil­las is home to drug dealers and crim­i­nals .

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