Schotsche Kloof trustees tackle neglected flats

The Schotsche Kloof flats have incredible views of the City Bowl but these Bo-Kaap flats have fallen into disrepair.

Two of the blocks of flats known as Schotsche Kloof with the view of the city.

Broken windows, peeling paint and damaged gutters are just some of the issues that the trustees are taking on at this block of 191 flats, 10 of which are owned by the City of Cape Town.

The flats are believed to have been built in the 1940s by the City and the infrastructure is decaying. And while the City asserts that maintenance is the responsibility of the Body Corporate, the trustees believe the City has to take accountability.

“When these flats were sold to the residents in the late 90s, early 2000s, it was done without giving them electrical compliance certificates, without a beetle certificate and without a plumbing certificate. There is asbestos that is part of the roofs and gutters and I believe no structural assessments were done prior to that sale,” said trustee Aboebakar Diedericks.

“Because of the location of the flats, the angle it lays at, the water seepage, we have looked at it and have found that the foundations and staircases have moved,” he added about the flats that were nearly 60 years old when they were sold to the ageing residents.

The Atlantic Sun asked the City whether, as original owners, they should be held responsible for maintenance of the buildings.

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements says no.

“The residents established the Schotsche Kloof Civic Association and applied to the City in 1995 to be allowed to purchase their flats by way of sectional title. This was approved by Council and the responsibility for these flats passed to the established Body Corporate,” he said.

“As tenants took ownership of their rental flats, the City was no longer responsible for the maintenance. The City is no longer the majority stakeholder and is therefore not responsible for the buildings. The responsibilities for maintenance at the rental units are spelled out in the lease agreements as shared between the City and the tenants. The residents are encouraged to read their lease agreements or visit their relevant housing offices for more information.”

The electrical rewiring is a key challenge that the trustees are taking on as a fire in 2019 damaged a few flats and it will cost the Body Corporate at least R15 000 per flat to upgrade the electrical wiring.

“It took the construction company eight months to fix up the damage by the fire and the water damage that was caused by putting out the fire.

“So this (electrical wiring) is something that is high on our priority list. We can only get insurance once this is done and we present an electrical certificate. It has to be done as it concerns the safety of our residents, most of whom are pensioners,” Mr Diedericks said.

If you look closely you can see broken windows

The trustees admitted that they were in arrears with the City to the tune of just over R14 million for water, sewerage and sanitation. This amount, they said, has accumulated over about 20 years.

“We want the City to install individual water meters so that the usage of water can be calculated accurately,” said trustee Fadiel Moos.

“We don’t know who is using what and the owners can’t be paying the same amount for water as some flats have four people, and others have more.”

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association Osman Shaboodien said the bulk reading of water usage was questionable and hoped the City would reduce or write off the R14 million debt.

“They need to look at this bulk meterage as it’s not accurate. These water pipes are old and obsolete and need to be replaced,” said Mr Shaboodien.

When asked about the plumbing infrastructure, Mr Booi said this too was not the City’s responsibility.

“The responsibility for upgrade and maintenance of privately owned units is that of the body corporate. The City attends to repairs and maintenance of the 10 units belonging to the City.”

The trustees also claim that levies are outstanding from the City.

“The City owes the body corporate just over R600 000. That’s an amount that’s been accumulating since 2013,” said Mr Diedericks.

“The individual owners do pay their levies on time and there was situation where certain owners did not pay as they claimed the City is not paying.”

But, Mr Booi said the City was paying its levies. “It can be confirmed that the City pays levies to the Body Corporate for the 10 rental units still in the City’s name,” he said.

According to the trustees and Mr Shabodien, they have been in talks with the City for six years about the problems facing Schotsche Kloof flats.

“The City is conducting a survey and we hope that once the survey is done then we can have agreement about who lives there, are they pensioners, do they work, so we are pleased that this survey is taking place,” Mr Shabodien said.

“We hope that they can work in unison with us. We need a partnership with the City to make this work.”

However, said Mr Booi: “The City is not the majority shareholder in this Body Corporate. But, all efforts are being made to assist where possible.”

The Schotsche Kloof flats are close to 80 years old.