City to Take Action on Illegal Activities in Senator Park Building in Long Street
The time has come, says the City of Cape Town, to take drastic action not just on this building, but on all problem buildings in the city.
As a result, a special meeting was recently convened by Alderman Belinda Walker the ward councillor for the CBD. It was attended by Councillor JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Councillor Taki Amira, Chairperson of the Protea Subcouncil, City officials and representatives from the Advocate Chambers in Keerom Street and the Central City Improvement District (CCID).
Short and medium term strategies were discussed and it was agreed that urgent intervention was needed to resolve the criminality that has become synonymous with Senator Park.
A task team has been formed to implement the proposed strategies. They include continuing SAPS intervention including drug raids and possible asset forfeiture, increasing the number of CCID safety officers in the area and the possible installation of a CCTV camera aimed directly at the building. Additional lighting will be installed in streets around the building, namely Green, Bloem, Keerom and Long Streets.
Says Councillor Amira: "If needs be, we will even consider closing roads around the complex."
Long term legal measures are being implemented to counter criminality in buildings such as Senator Park. According to Councillor JP Smith: "The City is close to completing the new By-law on Problem Buildings. The draft should be ready for public participation next month with full implementation envisaged by April next year."
The by-law follows through on the City's recent approval of a Problem Building Policy and seeks to close off the legal loophole that is evident when a problem building is declared and the City's Law Enforcement Unit has to ensure compliance. It now includes specific reference to sectional title units, which is the problem at Senator Park which is a single building with a multitude of separately owned units.
Mo Hendricks, Security Manager for the CCID: "Our security team has assisted the SAPS on special operations at Senator Park, and during these raids it was evident that overcrowding of the apartments is common, making this a very unsafe building. If as few as five people are sleeping in just 20 apartments illegally, there are already 100 people more than are allowed in the building."
The task team will also begin to identify the flats in the building and those responsible for the problems being experienced by the law abiding residents of Senator Park. It will liaise with the flat owners - many of whom do not live in the building (or even in the country) and may be unaware of the situation. Adjoining businesses will also be approached to establish whether their operations are being negatively affected by the activities in Senator Park.
Says Tasso Evangelinos, Chief Operations Officer of the CCID: "We believe that the constitutional rights of property owners and businesses in and around Senator Park are been infringed, as both property values and commercial operations are negatively affected. The City, the business community and other stakeholders, are jointly investing close to R500-million in this area, with projects such as 15 on Orange, the redevelopment of the Maharaj Restaurant building and the Pepper Street development".
Alderman Belinda Walker concludes: "We cannot allow the Senator Park situation to continue and it must be dealt with effectively and as soon as possible - not just as an exercise in its own right, but to send a clear message to other errant building and property owners throughout the city."
City of Cape Town
Alderman Belinda Walker
Ward Councillor and Mayoral Committee
Member for Corporate Services
Cell: 083 629 8031
Councillor: Taki Amira
Protea Subcouncil Chairperson
Cell: 082 440 1928