CRIMINALS are stripping two of the city’s well-known buildings of valuable materials in broad daylight in the presence of security officers contracted by the Tshwane municipality to protect the buildings.
The Kruger Park building has been empty since 2008 when a fire claimed the lives of five people. The fire was started by alleged rent defaulters evicted from the neighbouring Schubart Park flats. A total of 25 people, including a firefighter, were injured in the fire.
The crimes started when the city evicted residents of Schubart Park and placed the responsibility of guarding the premises in the hands of a private security company.
The criminals have been able to bypass the security and continue with their theft.
Recently, a man believed to be in his early thirties was killed when he tried to steal aluminium frames from one of the buildings.
He allegedly fell from the higher floors before a steel rod at the lower floors pierced his body, killing him.
A scrap metal dealer was recently arrested by the Tshwane metro police after he was found in possession of steel door and window frames allegedly stolen from the buildings.
When a Pretoria News photographer arrived at Kruger Park yesterday afternoon to take a picture of the building, he found a security guard at the gate. As he was taking pictures from the back of the building, he could hear crushing noises inside which he said sounded like people breaking out fittings.
When he left the building there was no longer a guard at the entrance.
Municipal spokeswoman Dike-ledi Phiri said the implosion of the building had been put on hold.
“(In terms of) the city’s housing and sustainable human settlement department, the municipality has put the implosion project on tender. In the meantime, the process to implode the building is on hold until after the matter has been before the Constitutional Court,” she said.
Phiri said the removal of the material from the Schubart Park flats building had affected the structure severely. “The building is no longer safe for human occupation. (That is why) the city deemed it in the best interests of Schubart Park residents that they be evacuated.”
Asked how the criminals managed to bypass the security to steal the frames, she referred questions to the metro police. Attempts to get a response proved futile.
Meanwhile, Schubart Park and Kruger Park are set to be destroyed as the municipality looks set to re-invent its image for inner city housing.
The two buildings which have been in the news over the past few years are sitting idle with no tenants following numerous disasters that have claimed lives.
The buildings are set to be imploded, but it might be some time before this happens as a case opposing the demolition is to be heard in the Constitutional Court.