Melgisedek buildings in Riviera that were declared unsafe for human habitation more than eight years ago will be among the derelict buildings targeted by the City of Tshwane in its fight against illegal occupation of properties in the inner-city.
The infamous buildings located next to Steve Biko Academic Hospital continued to accommodate more than 500 people despite that it was condemned by the City before the 2016 municipal elections.
Inside the building, some toilets had been turned into houses, leaving the people with no ablution facilities.
There is no electricity and dwellers are struggling to get water.
People living at Melgisedek are exposed to bad odours, mosquitoes and flies hovering in the air.
So far, the City’s plan to conduct an audit of the people living there and work out a relocation plan for them have not borne positive results.
However, on Thursday MMC for Corporate and Shared Services, Kingsley Wakelin, made a renewed commitment to tackle hijacked and illegally occupied buildings in the Pretoria CBD.
Wakelin’s commitment was in line with the resolution passed during an ordinary council meeting at Tshwane House on Thursday.
He said Melgisedek would be top on the list of buildings targeted by the City in terms of the council-approved programme called Tshwane Sustainable and Better Buildings, which aims to drive inner-city regeneration by tackling derelict and illegally occupied buildings.
Wakelin said: “The Tshwane Sustainable and Better Buildings programme is based on lessons learnt from similar attempts in other metros such as the City of Johannesburg, where there has been a marked decline in the CBD.”
He bemoaned that negligent property owners, slumlords, and building hijacking syndicates have taken advantage of people desperate for affordable and well-located accommodation, leading to the illegal occupation of buildings that leads to urban decay and poses a direct threat to human lives.
The other objective of Tshwane Sustainable and Better Buildings would be to provide affordable and well-located housing to residents and students.
Wakelin said the City would be taking a proactive approach to tackle derelict buildings, either by forcing the sale of the property through the courts or expropriation.
“Any instances of illegal occupation will be swiftly dealt with by following due process within the boundaries of the law. Any building hijacking syndicates or criminals will be identified, removed, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said.
He said it was the City’s intention to take full control of any derelict or illegally occupied municipal buildings.
“We will then avail them for long-term leases for the private sector to develop affordable accommodation and ensure that the buildings are properly maintained. In cases where buildings are located close to universities or colleges, this will naturally provide much-needed affordable student accommodation,” he said.
He said the repurposing of illegally occupied buildings into student accommodation represented a sustainable and cost-effective approach by the council to ensure that the City remains an attractive destination for students seeking quality education.