Freedom Court residents unhappy with service delivery

Residents of Freedom Court are dissatisfied with the City of Cape Town’s service and calling for the Bo-Kaap area and their flats to be better maintained.

Freedom Court was built in the 1980’s.

Although the City acknowledges that it is responsible for the management, upgrades, and maintenance of the 21 rental units, residents claim that service delivery is “unpredictable”.

“If you lodge a complaint they don’t come, you get a reference number and that’s it. I’ll wait a week and phone again and still they don’t come,” said Mymoena Leggett, 62, who has lived at Freedom Court for 34 years.

“The excuse is that they don’t have contractors but for the past two years it’s because of the pandemic – they can’t send people (contractors) because of Covid.

Ms Leggett claimed that damage to her shower cubicle was assessed by cabinet makers and plumbers on June 22. “I had cabinet makers here, and electricians, they came to assess the damage but they haven’t come back to do the job,” she says. The plumbers and bricklayer returned to finish their work, but not the others. I am depressed as a result of this lack of service.”

Haniem Safodien, 40, agreed with Ms Leggett about the lack of service delivery, and at the time of writing, no improvements to her flat had been made.

“You have to call and call and call and you will wait. It doesn’t matter what it is, you will wait but I see they have started,” said Ms Safodien.

Malusi Booi, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements said internal repairs and maintenance are limited to matters of a health and safety nature and this is attended to as soon as capacity allows.

“Repairs and maintenance at the City’s Community Residential Units (CRUs) across the metro is ongoing. Tenants are encouraged to make contact with the relevant housing office with respect to outstanding maintenance requests.”

Elizabeth Isaacs, 66, who has lived at Freedom Court for 11 years, said she had no issues with the City because her son-in-law will fix any problems she has inside her flat.

Mr Booi commended the tenants’ actions. “Tenants have to take responsibility for the internal fixtures and repairs of the rental units they rent from the City,” he says. “The City sees to the outside of the structure as well as complaints of a health and safety nature.”

“The water meter outside my house was broken and they came to fix it, they are still billing me and I don’t understand it,” said pensioner Asa Williams, 62, who was one of the first residents to move into Freedom Court.

“I’ve called them about a broken window and it’s been damaged for six years. There is wear and tear. I pay my rent but they don’t come to check up on things. They don’t respond immediately to our calls and this was before Covid. The excuse is Covid. Now we have to go to Heideveld to let them know about our problems here.”

Explaining this, Mr Booi said: “The Heideveld Housing Office must be contacted for any complaints related to the Freedom Court Flats and the numbers to phone are 021 444 5991 or 444 4835. If the City’s call centre is contacted and the complaint is about rental housing, it is relayed to the Housing Office for attention. The City is focussed on delivering the best possible service to their client.”

A gutter is missing.

Residents report that gutters are damaged and, in some cases, missing, as seen by the Atlantic Sun, and that certain sections are overgrown with plants. As a result, the rainy season is a nightmare for residents on the top floor.

“You only see them cleaning up around election time. Other than that, you don’t see the council. There is damage to the roof and ceiling. It leaks badly in winter and they’ve done quotes but no one has come to fix it,” said Samad Dalvie, 42.

Mr Booi has encouraged tenants to make contact with the relevant housing office with respect to outstanding maintenance requests.

“When service requests are logged, clients are provided with a reference number which they can use to enquire if any delays in repairs are being experienced.”

When asked about the maintenance of the courtyards Mr Booi said tenants were encouraged to clean their own spaces and if cleaning of the common areas was required, a request should be logged with the local offices.

Mr Dalvie said nearly eight years ago when a contractor was cutting the grass, his car’s windows were damaged. He took it up with the City but was never compensated.

“They don’t have to paint much of the walls here; it’s facebrick, but you hardly see them doing any maintenance. Look at the gutters, the windows, they all need to be replaced or repaired.”

According to Mr Booi they had recently circulated pamphlets to tenants with their rental accounts which explained the roles and responsibilities of the City, as the landlord, and the tenants. “Further awareness and consumer education campaigns are envisaged and will be rolled out in the coming months,” he added.

Plants growing in the gutters is proof of a lack of maintenance.