Salt River’s noisy neighbour concerns

Residents of Swift Street in Salt River have accused churches in the area of raising a holy racket on Sundays.

The narrow street has two churches, PHD Ministries and St Francis Catholic Church, metres apart from each other and close to homes.

Residents complain that this has created problems for them because the faithful flocking to Sunday services not only park them in but also raise the roof with noisy services which last from morning to evening with singing and instruments heard over speakers.

Resident Rhonda George said PHD Ministries, a new church operating out of an old warehouse, was close to her bedroom window and she couldn’t sleep at night.

“The church has possibly 500 congregation members and currently there is a shortage of parking. It’s very noisy, you can’t have a conversation, watch TV or sleep.”

She complained that the churches were being sub-let for functions and in the summer months they “put speakers outside with tents”.

Ms George has lived in the neighbourhood for nine years and she said many had fled the area because of the noise.

Mantsoe Kamardien has lived in Swift Street even longer, since 1992, and he said the churches made it hard for his daughter to study, and he couldn’t watch TV.

“I have no problem with the churches, but the noise only increases. There is no parking for a place like this. There is no place for my son and wife to park when they come here.

“I sent two cops there [PHD ministries] but they didn’t do anything. I also called the Church Archdiocese and they just laughed at me. From 7am till late, is full blown noise all day,” said Mr Kamardien.

However Peter John Pearson, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town, said he was only aware of one noise complaint involving the church.

“Our responsibility is to the people in the church and we addressed the noise levels in church. I haven’t received any further complaints.

“We take these issues very seriously. It is not in our tradition to hire out the church to other churches, so I can’t possibly understand how that could happen, I’m pretty sure it does not happen,” he said.

Suzettee Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said law enforcement had investigated a noise complaint at PHD Ministries church but had found no noise on arrival.

However, after a second complaint was received, the investigating officer had found that five different churches had been using the same warehouse at different times during the day.

“Due to the different churches hosting their services at different times, it has become challenging to issue the compliance notice to the church that is responsible for the actual noise,” she said.

Nevertheless, the complaint would be handed over to the City’s environmental health department for further investigation, she said.

“Generally, there are no regulations restricting the number of places of worship, such as churches, in an area,” said Ms Little.

Ms Little said the City worked off a parking ratio of one bay for every eight seats in the church, but Swift Street residents claim PHD Ministries alone has up to 500 congregants, which would mean that the church would need at least 60 parking bays.

Attempts to reach PHD Ministries for comment before going to print were unsuccessful. A number posted on the church’s website no longer appeared to be in service. A neighbour who has a phone number for the church’s pastor would not to give it out without his permission, and she said he had not been prepared to give her permission when she phoned him to explain that the Tatler wanted to speak to him.