Escombe: Abandoned houses are havens for criminals

This house has been abandoned since 2014 and is one of two problem building on Stella Road.

ESCOMBE Neighbourhood Watch (ENW) has pointed out houses in Stella Road, Escombe which they classify as problem houses as they are abandoned, run down and hide-out spots for criminals in the area.

The two houses are numbers 635 and 644 and they have been vacant since 2011 and 2014 respectively.

Also read: VIDEO: Criminals and vagrants invade abandoned Pinetown house …

The neighbourhood watch began taking notice of the first house (635) in 2014 and realised that there were people coming in and out the house yet the lights were never switched on.

“Just before sundown we all got this heavy burning wood smell with plenty of smoke that filled the air until late. This house has always looked dirty and very untidy.

“The front and backyard could be seen with heaps of rubble that was causing a health problem in the area,” said former chairperson of the Escombe Neighbourhood Watch, Hendrik Snyders.

The neighbourhood watch noticed pathways leading out from the bush into the backyard of this house.

“This was an clear indication that there were more entrances leading to gain access to this house,” stated a report by ENW.

“This house has been reported to Malvern SAPS and the councillor at the time as there were people seen collecting wood during the day and there were large pile of tree trunks stacked at the entrance of this house.

“We informed our councillor at that time of this problem that we have of the owner not sorting out his house. as this has now become a problem with our members living in the vicinity of this house. The councillor at the time told us that there is a court case pending since 2012. This was for the people living in this house illegally to evacuate,” said Hendrik Snyder.

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According to ENW, on 14 October investigations revealed that 30 people were living in this three-bedroom house at one time who were then forcefully evacuated.

Since the court case and the people were removed, the house has been empty and stripped of windows and doors.

“This property was never occupied by the owner who obviously does not live in this area and also does not seem to care what his property looks like in-between these neighbours,” the report stated.

According to ENW the second property was once occupied by an old man who was attacked and killed in the house some years back, the mans daughter sold it about 15 years ago.

“After many years this house has just been seen standing empty, very untidy with an unattended over growth. We turned to our councillor in 2014 to investigate and find out who is this owner of this house,” the report stated.

The owner of this house does not live in this area nor does he take care of the property.

ENW has noted that the house is a hide out for criminals in the area and want it solved to protect the neighbourhood.

According ward 65 councillor, Samantha Windvogel, there is a law (Problem building bylaw) that has been put in the table to deal with abandoned buildings that the council still needs to rule on.

“When a building is abandoned we have a problem because there is no one to send or serve with a notice,” said Windvogel.
The only thing that can be done at this stage is to send out environmental health to clean around the building.

“Once the bylaw is passed it will make it easier for us to deal with these properties,” she said.
According to the councillor In ward 65 alone there are more than 30 problem building.



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