265 23.10.2012 A hijacked building at 5 Davies street in Doornfontein, Johannesburg. Picture: Itumeleng English

RAW sewage spilling into the street, rats and an unbearable stench from a hijacked building in Davies Road, Doornfontein, are causing untold problems for neighbours.

The owner of a nearby building, who has asked not be named for fear of victimisation, said he has been in the area for 70 years, but the situation has become intolerable.

“There are permanent blockages in the sewerage system because there is no running water, so sewage runs down the street from the drain above the ground, and the smell is unbearable. The basement is filled with sewage and there are rats running around all over,” he said. The electricity has been cut off and squatters are chopping wood for heating, cooking and lighting.

“We don’t know enough about the laws, so we are approaching Metrowatch as not only is this an environmental disaster, but also a health hazard for the whole neighbourhood,” he said.

Other neighbours who didn’t want to be identified either said the building hijackers seem to know the rules and regulations of evictions and have deliberately put blind people into the building to prevent evictions.

“We are in a predicament; we do not want to endanger our lives. The police have done numerous raids without any success. There is a continual flow of illegal immigrants to and out of the building. We are afraid to even go to work these days,” he said.

The City of Joburg’s Region F (Inner City) is aware of the problems at 5 Davies Street and said the matter has been handed over to attorneys for legal action, which is pending. Spokesman Shaun O’Shea said the building was hijacked by a Mr Shabalala, first name unknown, who purported to be the owner.

“He has false ownership documents. He fraudulently procured the transfer of the property into his name. The Johannesburg High Court ordered the transfer to be reversed to the legitimate owner, Constance Wangjui, who was reinstated as owner. The property has now been sold and is in the process of being transferred to a new owner. The current owner is not prepared to sign a compliance agreement with the city to restore the building,” he said.

Notices have been issued to comply with by-laws and attorneys have engaged with the owner regarding compliance of by-laws at the building. “She is not willing to do anything because she has sold the building,” he said. Legal action will resume so that the council can obtain a mandatory interdict against the owner, forcing her to comply with by-laws, he said.