Students and tenants said they had become accustomed to muggings, robberies or attacks.
Student Nthabiseng Maphupha said she was afraid to go near the white house on the corner of Nelson Mandela and Rissik streets.
“Everyone knows that people get robbed around here and the thieves end up running and hiding inside the house.
“It’s dark and no one is willing to go anywhere near there.
“We see police come to raid the building once in a while, but it doesn’t help much because the criminals come right back afterwards. We don’t know what to do except that to ensure our safety, we walk around in groups.”
Security officers at a nearby building said the place was filled with thugs and prostitutes, and drug use was common.
They said every single day they heard someone screaming or shouting after they had been robbed by the criminals harboured by the building.
“We see the police coming in and out but then the thugs are back after a few hours. I don’t understand why they don’t just close down the building.
“The people living there have no reason to leave; they might not have electricity, but there is running water and the police don’t do much.”
Sunnyside police spokesperson Captain David Mavimbela said they were aware of the house and the challenges that the community was experiencing around the area.
Mavimbela said the police were conducting patrols, surveillance and search-and-seizures.
However, Mavimbela said policing alone was not aiding the situation as there was a continuous influx of vagrants, hence the need for engagement with other stakeholders for a more permanent solution.
“Until such time as we have found a permanent solution, we urge pedestrians using the Nelson Mandela Drive and Gerard Moerdyk and surrounds to remain vigilant.”