#ICYMI: Brighter future for Cape York


As a new era approaches for one of the inner city’s most notorious criminal hotspots, the MMC for Public Safety Michael Sun has welcomed plans for the renovation of the hijacked Cape York building by a private owner.

This comes after a devastating fire ripped through the building on 5 July resulting in the death of at least seven people, while six were taken to hospital in a stable condition, and one more in a critical condition. The building was declared unsafe by the City of Johannesburg’s disaster management and its occupants subsequently displaced.

“Illegally occupied buildings are not safe in many aspects. Not only is the Cape York building an environmental hazard – like many other abandoned buildings in the inner city, it is a serious fire safety hazard,” Sun told City Buzz.

Read: UPDATE: (VIDEO) 7 dead in Cape York fire

“It was found that the building has no escape routes or electricity, during an inspection of the building [in May].”

In light of the provision of alternative accommodation, however, Sun added that a number of women and children had been taken to a temporary shelter at the Wembley Stadium in Turffontein, while others have instead chosen to linger outside the building in vain. “Some are unwilling to relocate and that’s created some problems for us, however, we are providing emergency shelter just to make it as comfortable as possible for the fire victims.”

The MMC added that private property owners need to be more rigorous in implementing safety measures in abandoned buildings. “We look forward to private property owners taking more control of their properties and ensure that there is fire safety in all the buildings.

“We understand the occupants may have challenges of paying rent to the illegal land occupiers – a lot of the occupiers illegally take occupation of the building then sub-divide them to unsuspecting or even suspecting tenants.

Read: UPDATE: Tensions run high outside Cape York amid stand-off with vigilante group

“So there’s a complicated web of legal, human rights, service delivery and safety issues for us. And so we call on private owners to take more control to avoid such incidents.”

In conclusion, Sun said the safety of the residents of the inner city is paramount. “We really want to ensure the safety of residents, but at the same time, we’re asking residents to assist us in ensuring that there’s a safe environment for everybody.”

Any thoughts on how abandoned buildings constitute a serious social problem? Join the conversation by posting your comments on the City Buzz Facebook page

Tshepiso Mametela

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