Concern over derelict house

The semi-attached house at 32 York Street, Woodstock.

A derelict house in York Street, Woodstock is causing headaches for residents in the street.

Narima Sydow stays with her family next to the semi-detached house at 32 York Street, which has no roof and broken windows, and says it has become a crime den, with strangers coming and going at all hours.

According to Ms Sydow, the previous owner was a deep-sea diamond diver who became an alcoholic, lost his job and died of a heart attack in 1997 without leaving a will.

The man’s friend, who was living in the house at the time, claimed ownership but without any documents to support his claim.

He didn’t pay any rates and after he was arrested for murder in the early 2000s the house fell into ruin.

Ms Sydow said there were now about 10 people squatting on the property.

“We have spoken to them, they say they will change their behaviour, though obviously the next day they are doing all the wrong things again,” she said.

Another York Street resident, Ahdiel Fakier, said the house had become a blight on the neighbourhood.

“It is something we can really do without. There are people squatting there who look like they use drugs and are intoxicated, it’s not good for the children to witness.”

His wife, Fatima, said the police had raided the house many times.

A man who did not want his name published told the Tatler he had bought and smoked heroin at the house in the past but no longer did so.

Woodstock Community Police Forum (CPF) Sector 4 chairman Shamiel Abbas said the house was being used for drugs and prostitution. “When the original owner died, we also tried to contact his next of kin, though could not get anyone who could claim that property right.”

The CPF’s chairman, Youssef Kanouni, said Woodstock police had raided the house several times over the years.

“It is always frustrating when the community complains about the building and nothing is done.”

City law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason confirmed the house was listed as problem building.

“The problem building unit barricaded the windows and the back door, but could not seal the property because of the illegal occupants.”

Ward councillor Dave Bryant said he had visited the property to see for himself the problems there and had asked the City’s problem building unit to prioritise finding a solution.

Woodstock police’s acting station commander Lieutenant Colonel Alroy van der Berg said they had raided 32 York Street many times in the past few years, arresting people there on charges related to drug possession and the possession of stolen property.

The Tatler tried to speak to the occupants of the property but found it empty when we visited.