Brooklyn house a blight on suburb

The Brooklyn house was abandoned by its owner.

A Brooklyn house is now a derelict blight on the suburb and a health and safety risk to both residents and a nearby school, warns the neighbourhood watch.

The Brooklyn and Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch became aware of the house when it fell into ruin after its owner abandoned it early last year.

The house’s future has been hanging in limbo after the owner died intestate in August last year.

Cheryl Castle, the watch’s chairwoman, said besides the health risks and eyesore it poses, vagrants have been seen doing drugs there.

The watch had logged official complaints with the City of Cape Town about the house, she said.

Buren High School is just down the street and Ms Castle worries about the threat the deserted house poses to the neighbourhood’s children.

Tabletalk visited 28 Curlew Street with watch members last week and found people walking in and out of it. The house has been gutted of its electrical wiring and plumbing. Most of the doors and windows are gone as well as much of the roof.

Ms Castle said dry vegetation in front of the house was a fire risk.

The watch found a massive hole in the yard, apparently dug by the owner, although nobody knows why. It has since been filled in.

Mounds of dirt and human faeces fill each room, giving off a nauseating smell. But despite this, six people live on the property.

One of the “tenants”, who did not want her name published, occupies a small room with a door that doesn’t lock. She said she did not want to make the house “a comfort zone because this was no way to live”.

She said she had known the owner and described him as a “secretive man”.

“The main house had two bedrooms, and he lived in one of them. He built on five extra rooms at the back of the house and rented it out to prostitutes,” she claimed.

She said the owner had hanged himself after abandoning the house to live with his sister.

Rodney Wichman, who lives next door, said despite health inspectors and law enforcement coming to inspect the property “a thousand times” nothing was being done.

He showed Tabletalk a picture of what appeared to be a stream of urine seeping under a wall and onto his property from next door.

There were problems every night, said Mr Wichman, accusing the neighbouring squatters of being noisy.

“We are praying for something to happen this year,” he said.

Watch member Peter Landsberg said something needed to be done about the property soon.

“Someone needs to take ownership of the property and resolve the problem. Whether it’s the City or whoever. Something needs to be done because the situation is not improving, it’s just deteriorating,” he said.

Wayne le Roux, the City’s acting executive director for safety and security, said 28 Curlew Street had not been reported as a problem building previously and was “not currently listed as such”.

“The condition of the property falls within the criteria of a problem building in terms of the Problem Building By-Law. It should be noted that this building is not City-owned. This is a deceased estate. A family member is waiting for the Master of the High Court to appoint her as the executor, as there was no will,” said Mr Le Roux. Milnerton police station spokeswoman, Captain Nopaya Madyibi, said several properties in the area were known “crime generators”, which police patrolled and searched regularly.

“We urge the community to come forward with any specific information regarding crime or illicit activities,” she said.