MAGGOTS, rats, faeces splashed on windows and an unbearable stench from a hijacked building in Goud Street are infiltrating the spotless classrooms of an inner city crèche which now faces closure.
The children have been falling ill with vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throats and coughing because of the conditions in the next-door building and, earlier this week, had to be evacuated because of the stench, which was worsened by the rain.
Neighbouring property owners complain bitterly that the City of Joburg does nothing about it despite it being a severe health hazard for many neighbouring buildings.
Afhco, which owns a building next door, says staff trying to keep their own building, Textile House, clean, are at their wits end.
Said chief executive Renney Plit: “We have been involved in a legal battle with this building, called Cape York, which is owned by the Bank of Mozambique (essentially the Mozambique government). It has been hijacked.
“This week, the crèche in our building was closed by the Department of Education as all the children are vomiting and had severe cramps. This is due to the faeces and garbage that is thrown from Cape York into our building.
“We are at our wits’ end as the legal process has been going on for years, and the building has been allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that it is a severe health hazard, with the owners taking no responsibility for its current state.”
In the past week alone, seven windows in Textile House were broken by the building hijackers, by residents throwing objects.
“We can’t rent out flats on that side of the building. People stay for a few months, then are driven out by the stench and fear of getting injured by missiles which are constantly being thrown from the neighbours,” he said.
The Star visited Textile House and saw broken windows on every floor of Cape York. Every few minutes, packets of rubbish, or buckets of dirty water, are thrown out of the windows. Every steel staircase on the exterior of the building brims waist-high with rubbish. The stench is unbearable.
The principal and owner of the school, Nozipho Nyanyane, said she was already informing parents that she was closing the school and was urging them to try to find other crèches in the area.
“I can’t stay open anymore. It is too dangerous for the children. The other day, a small boy was in the bathroom and someone threw a bottle through the window, smashing the glass, and it was only through sheer luck that he was not injured.
“We cook food for the children on the premises, but have to keep the doors and windows closed, because of the mosquitoes and worms which come through the windows,” she said, pointing to a window smeared with faeces.
The City of Joburg says it has served numerous notices of contravention of various by-laws on this property.
Shaun O’Shea, stakeholder management and liaison for Region F, said their legal and special investigations task team has been “engaging with all stakeholders involved”.
“However, it is quite a complicated story – the legal owner, the Bank of Mozambique, has an agreement with a Mr Kalinda who made an offer to purchase the property as a legitimate buyer.
“Mr Kalinda’s problem was, however, that he had no control over the property, and claims it is a hijacked building.”
He also subsequently entered into an agreement with a property management company who, in turn, entered into an agreement with “floor managers” to collect rent on their behalf.
“The ‘floor managers’, however, weren’t paying the rents back to them. The matter was then reported to the Hawks and a special task team for investigation as a hijacked property.
The City has had engagements with all the parties in January, and again on February 5, and has advised that the next steps will be for the legal owners, the Bank of Mozambique, to obtain an eviction order through their appointed attorneys,” O’Shea said.