The City is threatening the owner of several slum buildings in Wynberg with court action and the confiscation of his property to cover his municipal debts.
At a meeting in Wynberg on Monday, mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith told Uli Heydt that unless he found a way to fix the buildings between Ebor and Main roads, the City would take him to court for debt collection and problem-building infringements (“Inside Wynberg’s ‘wrong turn’ squalor trap”, Bulletin, May 12).
“The Uli Heydt properties are among the City’s top-10 problem buildings. This property is anchoring Wynberg becoming a slum area and Mr Heydt a slumlord,” Mr Smith said to all those at the meeting, including Mr Heydt.
The meeting was arranged by Sub-council 20 chairwoman Xanthea Limberg, and, despite torrential rain, it was attended by, among others, Wynberg police and law enforcement officers and sub-council manager Richard White.
Mr Heydt told the Bulletin that he had extensive cancer. He has owned what was once Uli Heydt Butchery for more 30 years. He said he had once employed 100 staff in the building’s heyday.
Another property is a barber shop on the Main Road. Mr Heydt said he had gone there recently to ask about non-payment of rent, but the manager had not been there at the time. Access to the upper storey, where people have put up divisions as rooms, is now blocked with a metal gate. Another double-storey building, accessed from Ebor Road, was locked and opened by David “Mandela” Kikomeko who collects rent for Mr Heydt.
Mr Heydt said he also had a cottage on the other end of Ebor Road and the tenant paid some of the rent but not all of it.
He said he was owed about R2.2 million from the 80-odd tenants of his buildings and that was why he had fallen behind with his municipal rates.
He said Mr Kikomeko collected whatever rent he could.
“I’ve been trying to get law enforcement and the police to evict residents from some of the five properties I own in Ebor Road,” he said.
Mr Smith said City law enforcement could only raid for drugs. “They are not allowed to evict tenants. Only the owner can do this,” said Mr Smith.
Ward councillor Emile Langenhoven said the City had previously extended an “olive branch” to Mr Heydt to settle his account through a business rescue, but he had reneged on that arrangement.
“I don’t think that he would be able to settle it now even if he wanted to,” said Mr Langenhoven.
We asked how much was owed, but no-one could provide the latest amount.
Mr Smith said properties could possibly be sold on auction, but the buildings would need to pass inspection by electrical, fire and environmental health departments.
After inspecting one of the buildings, Mr Smith said he would like to see it demolished.
Mr Heydt said the tenants did not have leases, which Mr Smith said would aid in his efforts to evict them.
The entrances to the Main Road property and the lane in Ebor Road had been blocked with metal doors. Mr Smith said the lane was a public thoroughfare and the people staying there could be evicted immediately.
At one of Mr Heydt’s buildings, Mr Kikomeko said many of the people living there did not have steady jobs and did not want to sleep on the streets.
He said their rent was between R1 000 and R1 500 and he gave the money to Mr Heydt.
Mr Langenhoven said: “I’m in favour of the City taking possession of the Uli Heydt properties in lieu of the outstanding rates bill and selling it to a property developer.
“It’s sad that this has become Mr Heydt’s legacy he leaves behind in Wynberg. Many will not remember his name with great fondness, given that it is attached to the albatross that is the Uli Heydt buildings,” said Mr Langenhoven.