Bo-Kaap viewing deck not approved

Ishmail Daniels cleans the viewing deck everyday. He says it’s for the residents who want to take a break and enjoy the view.

A viewing deck on Astana Street in Bo-Kaap is set to be demolished after an anonymous complaint brought it to the attention of authorities.

The viewing deck has an uninterrupted view of the colourful neighbourhood, the city as well as Table Mountain.

Ward 77 councillor Francine Higham says she received a complaint in March last year about the structure built by Ismail Daniels, 60, who has lived in the area since 1986.

“I started about four years ago just before Covid started. I thought this space is being used for the wrong reasons and I can do something beautiful for the area,” said Mr Daniels.

“In winter when it rains then the mud and water causes damp in our home, so that costs me every year to paint and repair. And this space was used by guys that were doing drugs and other people dump their rubbish here. We even found wallets here of foreign people so it was used by criminals as well,” he said.

This space near the Freedom Court flats is similar to what was next to Ismail Daniels’ house.

Mr Daniels, a boat builder by trade, said he invited the local children to paint the deck and decorate the tables he made. With no financing, he also painted the steps and a wall at Freedom Court.

“I spent about R20 000 on the materials and paint. I buy it myself and no one sponsors me. So I involved the kids as well and they enjoy painting the walls and the wood and leaving their mark, they can say they helped to build this deck and those tables, they are proud and won’t vandalise this area because it belongs to them. This space is for them to have parties, but only for kids under 10,” he said.

In a statement from the City it says they are not aware of the amount of money spent on the deck and that no formal building plan application was submitted before it was built.

They encourage the tenant to log a C3 service request with the City to attend to any damp issues in their home.

This is one of the letters received last year. To date no action has been taken by the department.

Mr Daniels claims that no one is allowed to sleep on the deck and that they have not entertained tourists.

Ms Higham said she requested that the Human Settlements department investigate the situation.

“I asked the City’s Building Inspector to investigate and they informed me that the structure had been built on City property without any planning permissions. I then engaged with the Human Settlements Department who are the responsible property owners and they confirmed that they had not given permission for the structure to be built, and that they would issue a notice to the resident requesting that they remove the structure, which is the letter dated 16 November 2022,” said Ms Higham.

“I understand that the reason the resident built the structure is due to safety concerns with anti-social behaviour taking place on the property, and so I have further engaged with the Human Settlements Department regards securing the property once the structure has been removed. They have confirmed that they are in the process of submitting planning approvals for the installation of secure fencing at this site,” she said.

Mr Daniels expressed his dismay that the City had threatened to demolish the viewing deck.

“I clean here everyday and if people want to take pictures they are allowed to, but we don’t sell drinks or food here and I’m disappointed that we got these letters, it makes me really unhappy that my work is not appreciated. There was an inspector here and he said it’s fine and the former ward councillor said the same, this is an ongoing project because we have to repaint and put in new plants to keep it fresh and seasonal,” he said.

Ragmat Khan, 83, is the owner of the flat at Freedom Court as well as the mother-in-law of Mr Davids.

“The council has never cleaned this place, it was filthy, people dumped all their rubbish here and there were rats here, but since this (viewing deck) is here it’s so much better and we take care of it,” said Ms Khan.

Nevertheless, the City says it cannot consider allowing the deck to remain as no permission was granted and the tenant is in breach of their lease agreement by unlawfully constructing this structure.

“Construction must also adhere to National Building Regulations to ensure safety and integrity of the construction. There are signs of soil erosion on the property which poses risk and possible liability to the City of Cape Town,” the statement says.

The Human Settlements department had not responded to questions from the Atlantic Sun at the time of publication.

All the goods are handmade by Mr Davids who was also assisted by children from the area.
The Human Settlements department has not responded to the Atlantic Sun about their instructions.
A Bo-Kaap resident, Erefaan Ramjam, walks down the stairs from the viewing deck. The stairs too were built by a resident.