Orange Grove residents fighting back

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ST slum house supplied Nuisance: An Orange Grove property that was occupied by squatters has been demolished.

THANKS to the vigilance of the Orange Grove Residents’ Association, a slum house that was causing endless problems in Second Street has finally been demolished.

Illegal activities and municipal service breakdowns are common in the suburb – ward councillor Marcelle Ravid has identified 98 problems, including broken street lights, leaking water meters and illegal businesses.

In a private deal, the details of which remain confidential, the owner of an adjoining property was given permission by the bond holder – a bank – to apply for a demolition order on the Second Street house.

The bank has refused to acknowledge its ownership, saying it belongs to a woman who emigrated to Italy.

Now the remaining slum buildings have been demolished, and the business owner plans to use the land for parking.

Roger Chadwick, chairman of the Orange Grove Residents’ Association, said this was a step in the right direction.

“But we would like to know who is going to pay the R1.2 million in outstanding rates. In the meantime, the house has been demolished and will be cleaned and fenced off, which is a great victory for Orange Grove residents,” he said.

The property was occupied by squatters and was overrun by rats.

Pikitup refused to continue clearing the property, saying it had liaised with the environmental health department on many occasions. The entity said it had removed enormous amounts of waste from the property “knowing that the owner was responsible for his actions”.

The City of Joburg’s environmental health department, in letters to the residents’ association, admitted that there were numerous problems with the “accumulation of rubbish on the property, the accumulation of wires, old mattresses etc. There are people making fires at night and there are signs that rats are breeding on the property”.

Chadwick said: “Everyone was aware of the problems. The departments does what it has to on a short-term basis, but ultimately the council does nothing.”

Metrowatch recently reported that another property owner, Franco Poretti, won a high court case last year that forced Gerald Rubin, the owner of the property next to his in Fairwood, to demolish a house that had become a haven for squatters. Rubin has appealed, and Poretti continues to live with the mess, noise and pollution.

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