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Thursday May 16, 2013

Pretoria's Riviera residents angry over 'empty promises'

Residents of Melgisedek complex in Riviera have claimed that Tshwane Metro Council "illegally" cut off their electricity.

Uncollected refuse at Melgisedek building on the corner of Steve Biko (Beatrix) and Annie Botha Streets.

The complex - formerly home to Melgisedek Christian Centre on the corner of Annie Botha and Voortrekkers roads - has been without electricity for more than a week.

Residents said they could not understand why the electricity had been cut off because they use prepaid electricity.

"What the council did is illegal because we use pre-paid meters. Some people had loaded their meters but they cannot use their electricity because the power is off," said resident Susan Buys.

She said some residents had to throw away rotten food because their fridges were not working.

"Their fridges are not working due to the electricity cut-off and this forced them to throw food away because it was rotten," she said.

Buys said most residents were willing to pay for municipal services and had approached the municipality on several occasions for assistance without any luck.

According to Buys, a resident at the complex had been collecting R200 from each resident, but they did not know what it was meant for.

"We want to know what the money will be used for," she said.

Buys said they might approach the Pretoria High Court to have their electricity reconnected.

"We have pre-paid electricity but we cannot use it... this is unfair."

Conditions at the complex have deteriorated over the past few years.

The municipality committed to improving conditions at the complex in 2010 and promised to come up with an action plan indicating steps to be taken to address the welfare of residents.

This was after DA councillor Francois Bekker submitted a motion to council in 2010, asking for action and commitment from the municipality.

Bekker said at the time that the ball was now in the metro council's court to introduce an action plan to

Rtake control of the situation.

While the municipality has failed to provide answers to the Pretoria News regarding the situation at Melgisedek, ANC councillors, who included former member of the mayoral committee for environmental management Tessa Ernest and Edward Musehane, paid a surprise visit to the complex on Monday "to obtain first-hand information on what is happening".

Ernest said they made some observations and would discuss what they had seen with the municipality.

"A plan needs to be made to address some of the issues raised by residents," she said.

Residents of the nearby Riviera Close and Medi-Village complexes have also spoken out about the "goings-on" in the complex, which they say often spill over into their complexes.

A resident occupying a block of flats next to the Melgisedek perimeter wall said she could no longer sit on her balcony, as each time she did, she attracted unwanted attention from "malcontents" at Beersheba, as the complex is notoriously known.

"They start calling me all sorts of names like, lovey, sister or sweety, and I find it extremely annoying," said the tenant who declined to be named.

She said at times she could not keep her windows open as the smell of marijuana from Beersheba wafted into her house.

"I am definitely on my way out," she said, adding that she was looking for accommodation somewhere decent.

A security guard at Riviera Close complex, who also declined to be named said the rate of turnover in their block of flats bordering Melgisedek was very high because of the nuisance arising from the complex.

He said besides the smell of drugs and noise emanating from the complex, there was at times an unbearable smell from the sewer system there. The security guard said residents from the surrounding area who dropped at a nearby bus stop were not safe after dark, and that there had been incidents of bag snatching, with the muggers running and disappearing into the complex.

"If this place got shut down or demolished, people here (at Riviera Close) and those at Medi-Village would definitely be very happy," the guard said. A member of the Moot community police forum (South Sector), who did not wish to be named, said steps should be taken by the council to address the problems at the complex.

The member said there were a lot of things happening at the complex, with little action being taken by the authorities.

"There are a lot of illegal people and drugs are involved. The city has not done anything to tackle the problem," he said.

He said the complex was a hideout for criminals and posed a threat for students who walk to the nearby Steve Biko Hospital.

"One of the biggest problems we have is that crime has increased and this is not good for the neighbourhood. This complex pulls the wrong people to the area," he said.

Pretoria News


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