The City of Cape Town’s public housing department is experiencing severe repair work backlogs, primarily due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
This was their response to tenants of council rental units (CRU) in Woodlands who complained to the Good Party’s Ward 75 councillor candidate Shahiem van Nelson, while he was campaigning in the area a few weeks ago.
They said they have been complaining to the City for the past four years, when their roofs started leaking, their furniture and appliances were damaged; and the building landing began disintegrating.
Tenant Rosline Brandt showed the Plainsman C3 notifications logged with the City since June 2019. Complaints include “repair broken ceiling where necessary”; broken sliding window, carpentry hole in the roof and broken window hinges in the lounge.
“When it rains we have to put out buckets and pans to catch the water,” she said.
“The double bunk has rotted already and my television blew.”
Ms Brandt said when the wind blows they can hear the creaking of the roof sheets and that a sheet has already blown off.
She has also had to put boards in place to close the holes in the ceiling.
She pays rent every month and fears having to pay higher tariffs if she she does not pay within the first week of the month.
Ms Brandt said she feared that quick fixes would be made as electioneering for the municipal elections started.
Rachel August, 64, is a tenant in another block a few streets away. She lives on the second floor with her wheelchair-bound husband, Harry, 64, and their three sons.
One of their sons, Cheslin, 31, was shot dead on Monday September 6.
Mr August has not left their flat since before the national Covid-19 lockdown last year and last week Ms August could not come down the stairs because the floor outside their door is disintegrating and there is a hole in landing below them.
Their daughter Sameegah, 23, said she would not know what to do if her father needed to leave the flat in the case of a medical emergency.
She told Plainsman that she and her mother had been on their way to the rent office to sort out their water bill, which is in arrears, when they got the news that her brother had been shot.
“But my mother could not come down because it was unsafe for her to step on the board covering the hole down the stairs,” she said.
The August family have been living in their flat for 35 years.
Ms August said council had said they could not come out because of Covid-19.
Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi said they were doing their best to work through the pandemic.
“The required work will be carried out as soon as it is possible.
“We thank our residents for their patience while we attend to the most urgent cases first,” he said.
About 400 of the Woodlands CRUs were last upgraded between 2010 and 2015.
The upgrades included work being done on electrical and plumbing infrastructure, roofing , flooring, doors and painting, among others.
Mr Booi said it was the tenant’s responsibility to alert the City to any problems and that they were not aware of the August’s situation.
“We have great empathy for the family and would like to convey our sincerest condolences,” he said.
He said the August family had not informed the local housing office that Mr August was confined to a wheelchair. The department, he said, allowed for priority transfers to ground floor accommodation on medical grounds.
“If the gentleman is wheelchair bound as a result of an amputated leg or legs, no medical reports will be required.
“For any other illnesses that require him to be in a wheelchair, medical records will have to be submitted to justify the priority transfer to ground floor.
“Ground floor units are at a premium and not readily available and as a result there might be a waiting period,” said Mr Booi.
To be considered the family must visit the local housing office and report on their circumstances.
It will also be beneficial if the family has no history of anti-social behaviour and in good standing in respect of their rental payments, he said.
He said if tenants felt unsafe for whatever reason, they must report criminal activity to the law enforcement agencies. Anti-social behaviour can be confidentially reported to the local housing office.