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While most residents of the Senator Park building in the city have moved out to make way for an upgrade, the few who remain behind have been given just over a week to get out or be forced out.
The building is notorious for drug peddling and prostitution.
Law Enforcement assistant chief Nathan Ladegourdie said 23 flats were still occupied by resident owners and 17 by tenants when he visited on Monday.
This followed a “clean-up” operation by law enforcement officials on Monday.
The building is being cleared in line with a Western Cape High Court order obtained by the Senator Park body corporate to implement a scheme for the reinstatement of the building and eviction of all residents to allow for the upgrade.
Most occupants of the 168 flats had left in the six weeks since being given notice of eviction, but several waited until the last minute to move.
Building security officials eventually forced them to pack their belongings.
Ladegourdie said his team was waiting for requisite paperwork to be completed, and expected to start serving notices on the remaining residents later this week. Once the city served the final notices, the last residents would have seven days to vacate the building.
“The building has been declared problematic and unsafe to live in,” he said.
Property managing agent Len Lowlings described some of the tenants as malicious.
At the weekend, vacated flats were secured with metal slats welded to door frames.
But the measures were still not enough to keep some people out. Lowlings said that as some people moved out, others “hijacked” their units.
He said people had climbed on to a landing on top of shops in Long Street and entered first-floor flats through the windows.
Baths and basins were plugged and the taps were opened. Most of the first floor was flooded as well as the shops on the ground floor.
Anaclet Mbayagu, owner of a curio shop affected by the flooding, said he had not yet assessed the damage but expected losses to be huge. He said he was pleased the evictions were taking place.
“There have been so many incidents with those tenants. I’m glad that they’re leaving. Things are going to be much better now,” said Mbayagu.
He explained how glass bottles were tossed from above, shattering outside his shop.
Lowlings said the clean-up was the first step.
A meeting would be held with owners to discuss the future of the building, which he envisaged being targeted at young professionals if it were to retain its residential status.
The structural engineer’s report indicated that the columns had to be reinforced.
The lifts would also have to be repaired.
Lowlings explained that because of residents urinating in the lifts, the electronics were damaged, rendering them out of order. Fire damage to parts of the building and some of the carpeting also needed repairs.
While the rules of the body corporate stated that a maximum of two adults and one small child were allowed to live there, an average of six people lived in the 40m² bachelor flats. Municipal bills amounted to between R80 000 and R100 000 a month.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the owners of two inner city buildings where many Senator Park occupants were seeking accommodation had been warned to be cautious about taking these people in as tenants.
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