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Life is bad in cockroach hotel

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Life is bad in cockroach hotel

by Barbara Meyer
29 Aug 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Lying in the dark, in the corner of a cardboard and plastic burrow, Toms Msutu knows he is in desperate need of medical attention. The Athlone Police stumbled onto this resident during one of their regular raids in Athlone on Friday, 24 August.


The infamous house at 12 Beverly Street has been the target of numerous raids by the Athlone Police over the past few years. And police say they are currently in the process of collecting evidence from the raid to take action against the owners of the house.

According to the spokesperson for the Athlone Police, Captain Andre Venter, businesses in the Athlone central business district are complaining that the shenanigans in the house have been hampering business in the area for years. Venter says the house in Beverly Street is allegedly a drug hang-out and a common hide-out for gangsters who rob people frequenting the Athlone CBD.

Stolen goods from the local shops have been found in the house during the raids.

"This house is often used as a venue for parties and then the shootings break out in the house. We have found children as young as 14 hiding in the back yard. The children come here regularly for entertainment purposes," Venter says.

At first glance the house in Beverley Street looks quite benign. But according to the Department of Health, about 30 people live at this dwelling.

Metal sheeting is used to cordon off the back yard. But upon venturing deeper into the shadows, you discover the back yard has been turned into a cesspool of urine-stained burrows. These rooms are allegedly used as "chill rooms" for the guests to pass out after consuming drugs bought from inside the house.

There are no windows in the dwellings. The only source of light shines through the cracks in the corrugated roof. The police use torches to find their way through the burrows in the yard.

This is where the police found Msutu, one of the residents.

In a wavering voice, the sickly man fought off his rescuers, who tried to take him to hospital. "I am okay. I have everything I need: a bed, water and place to cook," Msutu argued.

Dr Ivan Toms, executive director of Health Services in the City of Cape Town, says a principal environmental health practitioner visited the site yesterday afternoon. "From a health point of view we are doing what we can." Toms says that while the house is known as a shebeen, shebeens are not a health issue. This must be dealt with by the police.

"With regards to overcrowding, while not ideal, we don't have authority to intervene; we will only intervene if it is a health risk," Toms says.

There are water and toilet facilities on site. "Bundles of old clothing and items that could result in rodent activity were found and we will serve them a notice to clear this up," Toms says.

--  According to a People's Post article on 5 November, a notorious Athlone shebeen at 5 Rose Street in Kewtown was handed over to the state in October 2006 and the owner was served with an eviction order in a landmark case for the Athlone Police.

The police were conducting raids on the Kewtown house from as early as 1999 before final steps were taken.

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