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Flat left to gather dust

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Flat left to gather dust

by Esther Lewis
05 Sep 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

An investigation has been launched into the claim that a council-owned flat has been standing vacant for about eight years - while the never-ending waiting list for housing continues to grow.

Number 52 Recife Court, just off Surren Road in Hanover Park, has been under lock-and-key for some eight years, residents claim.

When People's Post visited the place, the door - full of thick dust, as a simple finger swab showed - and the rusted old lock on the security gate bore silent testimony to the allegations.

"That house has been closed for almost nine years now. The people just come a few times a year to check the post," says a neighbour.

She adds that they never stay for more than 10 minutes. Another neighbour believes the lady of the house is now living in Bridgetown, Athlone.

"I think she's just being spiteful. She told me she'll never give the place up. But she knows there are a lot of people, especially youngsters, waiting for a house," says the neighbour.

Hanover Park has hundreds of families on the housing waiting list. Some have been on that list for over 20 years.

On that list is Cassiem Sterris. His family shares a bedroom with another family. They live in a backyard in Athburg Walk. They have had to face a double tragedy because of their living arrangement.

Last year, a set of twin girls died within two months of each other because there was no proper ventilation in the room. The one died at 18 months and the other at 20 months "It's not fair to people like us. The way we are living is unhealthy," said Sterris.

A woman who also shares the room has been on the waiting list since 1972. Thirty-five years later, she still has no idea when she'll be provided with a decent home she can call her own.

Ricardo Sedres, provincial Inkatha Freedom Party organiser, points the finger at the local housing office. Sedres claims staff there told him that "there is nothing they can do because the tenants still pay the rent". But the housing office denies this.

Abuse of council houses has an extremely negative impact on the community, says Madiegah Price of the Hanover Park Housing Office.

"The community perceives the officials to be failing in their duty, possibly even corrupt," says Price.

Price says that yesterday morning (Monday), she received a phone call from a woman who had been waiting for a house since 1984. "She was in tears when she called," says Price. In light of this, Price feels that what's happening at Recife Court is grossly unfair.

She says her office has tried tracking down the tenant. A message was left with her mother for her to contact the office.

Notice will be served on the tenant.

"Should she not put in an appearance and occupy the flat, then she will be given 30 days? notice and the flat will be taken back by us and her lease cancelled," says Price.

Price adds that there will be regular visits to the premises to establish whether or not she has moved back. If anyone knows of similar cases, they can report them to the Hanover Park Housing Office on (021)691-9365.

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