Squatters out, builders in at Deurdrif house

Construction is under way at 20 Lochner Road in Deurdrif after squatters were evicted.

A property in upmarket Deurdrif, Constantia, is now a building site after a group of squatters moved out.

The occupants of the 937m² property at 20 Lochner Road had been fighting an eviction order, but the Bulletin was unable to ascertain by the time of publication whether they had left as a result of this or for some other reason.

In January last year, Diep River police officers had to intervene at the property when the squatters ignored a court order granting access to City officials and the owners for an inspection (“’Delinquent’ occupants of Constantia home in stand-off with authorities,” Bulletin, January 28, 2021).

A City official told the Bulletin that electricity and water meters showed signs of tampering.

Carol Bew, the ward councillor at the time who was at the inspection, said a Corsa had been spray-painted on the premises and the swimming pool had been emptied. The occupants had also been digging a hole at the wall and there was a strong smell of sewage.

A month earlier, in December 2020, the front boundary wall was knocked down in the presence of the sheriff of the court as it was deemed unsafe. It was replaced by metal sheeting, once part of a car port, covered in green netting.

Alan Rogers, who lives next door told the Bulletin in May last year that he wanted the City to give him a rates reduction, backdated to October 2018, when the squatters moved in, because of the problems they had caused (“Resident seeks rates relief over squatters,” Bulletin, May 27, 2021).

At the time, Mr Rogers said 10 to 15 people had been living on the property. Neighbours had complained about car work being done there – spray painting, welding, buffing and sanding as well as about fumes and noise from a generator that had run for up to six hours each day.

When approached by the Bulletin at the weekend, Mr Rogers declined to comment other than to say that the issue had been resolved.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “I’m glad that ordeal is over, but now we have another ordeal in the form of construction noise.”

At the property, workers, who were busy digging trenches on what had previously been lawn, said they were building a new house just in front of the existing house that is now little more than a ruin after a fire there just before Christmas – a security guard on site said the squatters had set the fire to spite the neighbours.

However, Diep River police spokesman Constable Zak Marais said the fire chief at the scene on the night of the fire had said there was no reason to suspect arson and so no case was opened.

City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said the fire had been reported on December 21, at 9.57pm. Crews from Wynberg and Constantia had found the fire in the roof void and had put it out, reporting no injuries and deaths, he said. Its cause was unknown, he added.

The house had suffered enough structural damage to render is unsafe for occupation, he said.

Asked when the squatters had been evicted, the City referred questions to the owners of the property.

In 2018, the owner let the house, then valued at R5 million to a couple, but when they defaulted on their rent, the owner was forced to return the house to Absa, which then sold the property on auction for R1.9m to Quattro Partners.

By this stage, more people had moved into the house, and Quattro sought to evict them, but the case dragged on.

In January last year, Wayne Hufkie, who represents the owners, told the Bulletin that an eviction order had been granted against some of the occupants who had chosen not to appear in court to oppose the matter, but the order had yet to be granted for other occupants who had sought legal aid to oppose the application on their behalf.

Mr Hufkie’s office said he would get back to this publication after attending meetings, but he had not done so by the time of publication. He also did not respond to a request for comment on WhatsApp. An email sent to an address given by his office bounced back.

Construction workers were trenching at the weekend.
The roof was damaged by a fire in December.