A local businessman is now working to rescue the abandoned, crumbling house on Sixth Street from decay.
The house has been a nightmare for residents of Boksburg North since its previous owner, who is said to have relocated to Dubai, left it at the mercy of vandals and squatters years ago.
The new owner has confirmed that he had bought the unsightly property in March and is hoping to save it from the squatters and vandals.
The plan is to demolish the structure and convert the property into a tyre business.
The purchaser, however, told this publication that he is now battling to get the property transferred from the seller’s name to his.
He said the struggle for change of ownership and issuing of a clearance certificate places him in an unenviable position.
It remains unclear if the struggle to have the property transferred from the seller’s name to the purchaser has anything to do with apparent debt owed by the seller to the municipality.
The building is now home to about 15 people who also store their recyclable materials there.
The years of neglect have seen the structure becoming a burned-out shell of a building, with the roof having fallen in and walls caving in, the floor covered in household waste, grass growing through the floors and anything of value had been stolen. It is also infested by rats and flies, and the backyard is like a jungle.
Although the residents have access to water from what appears to be a communal tap next to the entrance, the property lacks electricity and ablution facilities such as toilets and bathrooms.
There also reports that the property had become an alleged hotbed of prostitution, peddling of drugs and serves as a hideout for criminals.
The new owner also needs to evict the occupiers of the property and this exercise will obviously make the difficult situation even worse for the purchaser.
Squatters cry for help
In an interview with the Advertiser on August 2, the occupiers of the building indicated that they are not expecting the new owner to drive them out of their current home before an alternative accommodation has been made available to them.
“We heard that the people next door have bought the house, but they have not issued us with any notice as of yet,” said Thembani Ngwenya, one of the residents.
Ngwenya said the majority of the people who live there are unemployed and he and others have turned to recycling to survive.
He said the money they make from collecting the recyclable materials is not enough to pay rent. Instead, it helps them to at least put food on the table.
They expect whoever bought the property to provide them with an alternative place or employment so that they can at least get some income to use to pay rent.
Ngwenya admitted that the property is obviously unsafe for any human to occupy, but they (the occupiers) have no choice, saying it is better than sleeping on the streets of Boksburg.
“This building is sort of home to us and we have been here for just over three years. We have all these years been trying to get jobs, but we were unsuccessful and then ended up in this bad situation,” said Ngwenya.
About the vandalism which had taken place there, Ngwenya said different gangs of thieves, he believes are scrap metal scavengers, frequently arrive at the property and help themselves to the corrugated metal roof, window frames, door frames and other things of value they could lay their hands on.
“We have tried to defend our home, but didn’t want to be engaged in a fight against them,” said Ngwenya.
Apart from this decaying home, there are dozens of other dilapidated buildings which had been left to rot across the city. [email protected]