PRETORIA West residents protest regarding a house in the area, with others claiming it is a drug den. Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - Pretoria West police were on Thursday called in after two groups (of residents) clashed regarding a controversial house in the area.

One group claimed the house was a drug den, while the other described it as a drop-in transition home for addicts.

Members of Concerned Residents of Tshwane stormed the Buitekant Street house last Friday and removed tenants believed to be drug addicts.

The people allegedly misused the house, and it had dirty mattresses, needles, drug-use tablespoons and condoms.

They accused a local pastor of placing drug addicts in the house while collecting money from their parents.

They said the pastor left addicts by themselves, but claimed on social media that those who removed them worked for foreigners who hijacked houses.

The needles, tablespoons and condoms were scattered on the floor in a dirty back room.

However, the pastor - whose name has been withheld - said people did not understand that the house was not a rehabilitation centre, but a transition house for drug addicts. Once there, they interacted with people who understood drug addiction, she said.

“When they are in the house away from the public and have shelter, they think better. There are so many who started like that and finally kicked the habit.

“These people have refused us access to the house and we don't even know what is in there anymore. We know that they took the condoms there to frame and discredit us,” said the pastor.

The owners of the house, meanwhile, said they wanted the addicts out of the house.

They said the pastor stopped paying rent and electricity arrears had shot to R20000, while the addicts stole and sold wires.

To this, the pastor responded: “These people are liars of note. They decided to turn this property into a flat and tried to evict us illegally without giving us time to find alternative shelter.

“When we took them to court for illegal eviction, they took away our furniture and other things, and that's why we stopped paying rent.”

The Gauteng Department of Social Development said it was aware of the issue and that the shelter failed to honour rent obligations to the owner. The department said a letter of enforcement was issued to the shelter last December because it was found to be operating illegally.

“Each NPO must be registered, which was not the case with this shelter,” said the department .

The pastor, however, insisted that officials from the department were misinformed because the organisation was registered.

Pretoria News