Old Houghton wall a heritage disaster

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ST Mangope house  (1)_edited-1 inlsa Unsightly: Ward councillor Marcelle Ravid inspects the house on Young Avenue in Houghton, now belonging to the Department of Public Works, that is occupied by squatters and has had its heritage-protected perimeter wall defaced with metal sheeting. Picture: Timothy Bernard

AN UPMARKET house at 35 Young Avenue, Houghton, has been hijacked and invaded by illegal occupants.

The house belongs to the Department of Public Works and was used in the past by government officials of the Bophuthatswana homeland.

The house, which had been standing empty for years, has an old stone perimeter wall above which unsightly metal boards have been erected.

Neighbours worry that this is devaluing properties.

Ward councillor Marcelle Ravid said the house was illegally used as a film set by unknown people who have failed to move out.

The metal fencing along the property was also illegal in terms of heritage regulations, she said, because the original stone wall above which it has been placed was protected.

There are several trucks parked in the yard that appear to have been stripped.

Neighbours say the original fittings in the house have been stripped and vandalised.

Ravid said she had ascertained through DA MP Anchen Dreyer that the Department of Public Works owns the property.

Dreyer asked questions in Parliament about the property and the department admitted that it owns it.

Minister of Public Works Thembelani Nxesi said the department laid a criminal charge at the Norwood police station, which was sent to the Yeoville police station for investigation.

Furthermore the state attorney has requested the Department of Public Works to grant permission to appoint a legal representative to attend to the matter, which it has done. The legal services section of public works is now attending to the issue.

The Young Avenue house is next to another property, number 37, that was featured in Metrowatch on March 9 that’s also upsetting residents, and that has been boarded up by silver metal sheeting.

The owner was given 30 days from August 1 in which to remove it because of the heritage status of the property, but he has not done so.

Neighbours say the reflection of the sun from the silver sheeting causes glare and heat on their properties and the property is an eyesore in the upmarket area.

Eric Itzkin, deputy director of Immovable Heritage for the City of Joburg, said regarding the 37 Young Avenue case, the issue of the temporary fencing above the stone wall fell under the Department of Public Works, as anything over 60 years old fell under the department’s heritage regulations.

He said a notice was issued by the building inspector stating that the steel structure erected above the stone wall was regarded as a contravention of heritage regulations, and that the fence had to be taken down.

Ravid will investigate why this has not yet been done.

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