CAPE TOWN – Concerned neighbours in a Bonteheuwel street which is home to an alleged drug den and gang hangout, have dubbed it “21 Jump Street”, and together with the ward councillor, are appealing for authorities to shut it down using legislation.
Neighbours who asked not to be identified, confirmed that the house was a breeding ground for drug addicts and gang members and home to more than 20 children between the ages of one and 12.
Police have confirmed that numerous searches took place at the residence for drugs and gang activity after receiving several complaints.
The house was privately bought in 1986 and the name of the owner is known to Weekend Argus who was unable to trace him as well as the efforts of ward councillor Angus McKenzie.
Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said police had visited the premises on several occasions to carry out raids after complaints.
“We have been to the premises on numerous occasions after receiving complaints about drug and gang activity,” he said.
Van Wyk said the issue of housing and evictions and closure of the property was a City concern.
While law enforcement spokesperson, Inspector Wayne Dyason confirmed they had also done various search operations.
The City’s Law Enforcement Department has in the past conducted searches at the property in conjunction with the South African Police Service.
“However, the property is not under investigation by the City’s Problem Building Unit.”
Dyason said they could not comment about the children on the property and that it was a role for Social Development.
“Comment would need to be sought from SAPS and the Western Cape Social Development Department about interventions from their side at this property,” he added.
McKenzie said they have used all avenues to remedy the situation and is calling on the State (police) to enforce the Poca, the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the Assets Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to seize the property.
Together with the department of social development, they have tasked five social workers to carry out an investigation and assist the children and their parents.
“There are two aspects to this and one has been enforcement, around criminal activity and we can confirm from the law enforcement side, that we have consistently raided that premises as well as Saps.
“However, where the problem has come is because it is not a council rental stock house, we have not been to do much more, in terms of evictions , of the occupants and owners of the property because it is a privately owned property and not a council property.
“The South African police services have a piece of legislation called the Poca Act, as well the Assets Forfeiture Unit and what should happen is that any property that is used to derive an income through illegal activities, or activities taking place on the property is of an illegal nature, the State has the right, through AFU and the Poca, to confiscate that property.
“Now sadly, the SAPS of Bishop Lavis have not followed the legislation they have and unfortunately, the activities have continued.
“It is alleged that there is drug smuggling and gangsterism and child abuse and neglect, taking place in the property.
“What we have done from the City side, is that we immediately have the intervention of social workers to deal with the children and families.
“We currently have a team of five social workers, working primarily just at that house, trying to resolve the challenges and issues that they are facing.”
A neighbour, who cannot be identified due to safety concerns and will be targeted, said they are calling on authorities to shut down the house.
“There are over 20 children living there and they hardly have shoes for their feet and the house is overrun by drug addicts and gang members.
“These children are often hungry and are fed by residents.
“We feel that the state should shut down this house and place these children in a place of safety and give them a better home and future.
“The owner is not known or seen, no adult living there is able to keep any responsibility in terms of running a household.”
The office of the Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said they were aware of the situation but still investigating.
“We are aware that the department is investigating the matter. Once the investigation is completed, we will be able to provide further feedback,” said Joshua Chigome, spokesperson for the Minister.