An abandoned City-owned building in Claremont is becoming a drug den and a squat for street people, according to the chairman of the neighbouring mosque.
Located on the corner of Palmyra Road and next to the Al Jaamia Mosque in Stegman Road, the building was once a clubhouse for Sharks rugby supporters, and, more recently, it was home to a driving school.
The problems started about five months ago when the building was left vacant, says Nazeem Jamie, the chairman of the mosque.
“People were living inside the building, drugs were used on that site and the building is falling apart,” he said.
There were already some 70 street people living in 16 makeshift shelters in the vicinity, and now the mosque had to contend with drug use and vandalism at the abandoned building, he said.
Roof sheets and and bricks have been stripped from the building and, inside, it stinks and there is trash all over the place. A man who was sleeping inside left when we arrived.
Mr Jamie said he had put locks on the main gate even though it was the City’s responsibility to secure the property. “The locks on the gate are to ensure that no one can get access to vandalise the property further.”
The property had been well maintained while it had been used by the rugby supporters and the driving school, he said.
Ward councillor Mikhail Manual said there had been irregularities with the driving school’s lease and the City had asked it to leave five months ago. He said he had asked the City’s recreation and parks department to secure the property.
“Right now, it is important to secure the building to ensure that it does not fall deep into dereliction,” he said.
Mr Jamie said the mosque had made a proposal to the City to lease the building.
“We would clean up the space, perhaps establish a youth movement, partner with various non-profits and even look towards creating a food garden.”
City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “The site will be subject to a statutory process to allow for development rights for the entire precinct.”