Burnt house poses health, safety risk, say neighbours

The neighbours of this burnt house in Meeu Street, Southfield, are trying to find out who is responsible for securing the property.

A Southfield house, which was gutted earlier this year by a fire that claimed the life of its elderly owner, poses a health and safety risk, say neighbours.

Trespassers come onto the property at night to strip materials from the house, which also has an asbestos roof, say Trudy and Bruce Tosh who live next door.

They want to know who is responsible for securing the 15 Meeu Street property and have contacted the ward councillor, law enforcement and the police for answers.

The couple say the house’s owner, Catharina Kalis, is survived by a brother whom they believe wants nothing to do with the property because his widowed sister was in debt to the council for rates and takes. However, the City would not confirm that, saying it was not at liberty to divulge such information.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire at the house in the early hours of Tuesday June 29. According to Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse, they found the house alight and firefighters and ambulance personnel performed CPR on the owner but couldn’t revive her. Mr Carelse said the cause of the fire was undetermined.

Ms Tosh contacted councillor Kevin Southgate on Wednesday July 7, appealing for help with securing the burnt house. Mr Southgate forwarded the email to the City’s problem building unit to investigate and advise on a way forward.

Mr Southgate told the Bulletin it was up to the owner’s family to protect the property from illegal occupation and criminal activities and he was unaware of the legal status of the dead woman’s estate.

Both City law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason and Diep River police spokesman Sergeant Zak Marais echoed what Mr Southgate had to say about responsibility lying with the owners of the property. Sergeant Marais said they could increase patrols around vacant premises if they were made aware of them.

Ms Kalis’s brother, Kobus Buckle, who lives in Kleinbaai, was not prepared to comment on the record.

The burnt house is believed to have an asbestos roof.
The Southfield house has an asbestos roof.