Housing demand leads to Dunoon building boom

But residents complain that safety has been sacrificed

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Photo of building with shacks in forefront
An entrepreneur in Dunoon is building the township’s first four-storey building, but many residents fear safety regulations are being violated. Photo: Peter Luhanga

Entrepreneurs are making huge profits by buying RDP houses, bulldozing them to the ground and building blocks of flats towering above surrounding houses and backyard shacks in Dunoon township near Milnerton.

The safety of the multi-storey apartment blocks dominating the township skyline is being questioned by residents.

Some RDP houses are being extended into a series of single room flats off a central corridor with shared ablutions. In some cases a single storey is added on the top to create more rooms.

One entrepreneur has set a new trend. After purchasing an RDP house, he demolished it and is building a four-storey block of flats to rent. It is the first four-storey apartment block in the township.

Backyard dweller Erick Mzingile, whose shack is in the yard of an RDP house next to the multi-storey apartment block, said he was shocked to see the height of the building.

Mzingile said the building posed a high risk to tenants should a fire break out. “We don’t know if it will stand severe weather. We didn’t see building inspectors. We just saw it taking shape,” he said.

Coki Dumisani, whose RDP house is right next to the apartment block, said he was not sure whether his house would be safe in the long term.

But one neighbour whose RDP house is a property away from the high-rise building, said he did not see any problem as the plot belonged to the entrepreneur, who was free to build what he pleased.

“If we confront him and he tells us he knows what he is doing, what are we going to say? If I had money like him and wanted to extend my RDP house, I’d just do it without consulting anyone. I don’t have to approach neighbours or authorities for approval of my plans — that’s how it’s done here in kasi,” said the neighbour who refused to give his name. 

Attempts to contact the entrepreneur were unsuccessful.

Ward 104 councillor Lubabalo Makeleni (ANC) said while he supported property investment in the township, “investors should prioritise the safety and security of our people and not be greedy and be after money by taking advantage of our township”. He accused the City of Cape of failing to police “unauthorised building structures in our area. Instead they focus on affluent suburbs”.

Makeleni said the lack of housing opportunities led to the mushrooming of multi-storey blocks of flats.

“Our people are desperate for accommodation and willing to pay any amount towards rental without checking their safety and security in the high rise flats,” he said.

The demand for accommodation has also led to RDP house prices increasing. “Within a year the price of RDP houses jumped from R120,000 to R200,000, which is ridiculous to our people as most buyers are foreigners and white people,” Makeleni said.

Mayco member for Transport and Urban Development Authority Brett Herron said: “All properties situated within the City of Cape Town’s jurisdiction are governed by the newly approved Municipal Planning By-law and the Development Management Scheme. Therefore, all property owners are now required to adhere to the National Building Regulations for all buildings except shelters.”

He said the City’s building inspectors routinely visited building sites and investigated complaints submitted by the community about illegal building work or land use contraventions.

“We encourage the community to report suspected illegal building work or land use contraventions to their local Development Management office for further investigation. Where contraventions have been found, the City will take the necessary legal action,” said Herron.

TOPICS:  Housing

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