Noise nuisance

Summer Greens resident Thys Carstens resorted to installing a noise-dampening device between his and his neighbours boundary walls to keep noise out.

Residents of Summer Greens and Brooklyn say they are losing sleep due to inconsiderate neighbours who cause a racket.

Thys Cartsens, 70, from Summer Greens has logged several noise complaints with law enforcement in the past year and a half over loud music and partying from next door.

Mr Cartsens says he’s forced to keep his doors and windows closed at all times to block out the noise but that it doesn’t prevent the bass from vibrating in their house.

“I can’t enjoy staying here. I can’t sit and read or watch TV. It’s unpleasant, and it’s disturbing our peace,” he said.

He said his wife had suffered four strokes and he suffered from osteoarthritis and that the noise was affecting their health even further.

“It’s making us irritable. We can’t get enough to sell the house and move. I have a tiny pension,” he said.

Mr Carstens said he had spent R2 500 to install a noise-dampening device on the boundary wall.

In February a compliance notice was served on his neighbour. Mr Thys said that when had followed up on the notice in July, SAPS had told him the docket had gone to court and he and his neighbour could “fight it out in court”.

Wayne Dyason, spokesman for City Law Enforcement, said he could only comment after the court case had been concluded.

Gary Williams, also of Summer Greens, said he had been battling with a neighbour a few doors down for 18 months and had complained to Law Enforcement and SAPS about grinding, panel beating and the fumes and noise from spray-painting. His neighbour, he said, had illegally set up a mechanic’s workshop in a residential area.

Law Enforcement always arrived after the noise had died down so his neighbour was never caught in “in the act”, he said.

“It would save taxpayers money if they can get a search warrant for my neighbour’s place to prove he has all the equipment on his premises instead of answering call outs long after the noise has stopped,” said Mr Williams.

Mr Dyason said complaints about businesses in residential areas were handed over to the City’s land use department after the activity had been observed by an officer.

“They require the complainant to complete a standard complaints form before they can investigate. The officers will normally, as the first point of departure, issue a compliance notice to the offender with respect to the noise nuisance if it is audible. This is done under the Streets and Public Places By-law,” he said.

An Ysterplaat woman, who did not want to be named as she is an elderly woman who lives alone, said the noise disturbance from the neighbour directly behind her was causing a strain on her mental well-being.

She said she could hear “intermittent” angle-grinding noises and something that sounded like “heavy machinery” at her neighbour’s house.

“Even when it stops, you are stressed out about when it will begin again,” she said.

She said numerous calls to Law Enforcement and SAPS had not solved the issue.

“Part of the problem lies with Law Enforcement, who are slow to arrive or don’t arrive at all. I have called them numerous times; sometimes they respond, sometimes they don’t. If they were adequately staffed and equipped, effective and fast in following up on complaints, half the battle would be won.”

Winning the other half of the battle, she said, lay with raising more awareness.

“If people acknowledged noise as a pollutant, as bad as littering or dumping rubble or setting off fireworks, and if they considered it their duty to observe by-laws, and if those by-laws were widely known and visibly enforced, this problem would be much less.”


BLOB City of Cape Town by-law relating to noise nuisance

No person shall in a public place

(a) cause or permit to be caused a disturbance by shouting, screaming or making any other loud or persistent noise or sound, including amplified noise or sound; or

(b) permit noise from a private residence or business to be audible in a public place, except for the purposes of loudspeaker announcements for public meetings or due to the actions of street entertainers.

The City distinguishes between two types of noise:

Noise nuisance

This is usually “obvious” noise, something easily identifiable, something that does not usually happen and that should not be making such a level of noise. The noise does not have to be very loud – it could be a sparking electric fence or a party – but for it to be a noise nuisance it needs to be out of place.

BLOB Noise disturbance

Noise disturbance tends to be a longer term issue and comes from sources that are more permanent but less obvious – for example, industrial noise, singing from churches or calls from mosques. A decibel reading is need to enforce control.

For air and noise pollution call City Health at 021 590 1419.