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Gugulethu man blames City contractors for his crooked house

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Mzwandile Mvumvu believes his house collapsed after work was done on sewage pipes outside

Photo of man in front of breaking wall
Mzwandile Mvumvu’s house has subsided on one side. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana
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Mzwandile Mvumvu and his family have been living on a slope since his Gugulethu house sank down on one side four years ago. He believes the house was damaged by contractors hired by the City of Cape Town to replace sewer pipes in the street.

In 2014, Amandla Construction, contracted by the City, replaced sewer pipelines in Steve Biko Drive in Gugulethu. Mvumvu, who lives at number 330, says the construction and digging were mainly done at his neighbour’s house. But he believes the impact of the work caused cracks in his house and left it skew.

However Amandla Construction manager Graham Jones said the pipeline work was not the cause of the damage. He told GroundUp the origin of the cracks was at the back of the house. Jones said the work had been inspected by engineers and no faults or damages had been picked up.

Mvumvu said while the contractors were working he had complained that cracks were appearing in his wall. He had showed the contractors the cracks. “All they did was put a little bit of cement in between the cracks,” said Mvumvu.

The following day he had noticed that his black wheelie bin had disappeared and his gate was not closed. He first thought the bin had been stolen. But when his children alerted him to a huge crack on the house on top of the garage door, he saw his car leaning to one side and saw that part of his house was sinking to the right. His wheelie bin had fallen through a large hole in his driveway caused by an enormous crack.

Mvumvu said he contacted the City again and was told to take the matter up with Amandla Construction, which he did.

“People from Amandla came here and I showed them the damage to my house. They said my house was built with cheap foundations. I went back to the City because they are the ones who contracted Amandla,” said Mvumvu.

He has approached lawyers to try to sort the matter out.

Mayoral Committee member for finance, Johan van der Merwe, said the City could not comment until legal proceedings related to the claim had been concluded.

Mvumvu showed GroundUp cracks inside and outside his house, which he says become worse when it rains. Standing outside on the pavement, one can see that the house is leaning to one side.

“Engineers come here with City officials, they assess the damage, leave and I never hear from them again. All I want is for my house to be fixed or for my family and I to be moved to another house. My wife is under enormous stress, she can’t sleep at night because every sound she hears, she thinks the house is falling. Just a few days ago I found a new crack,” said Mvumvu.

Jones said when he visited Mvumvu’s house two years ago after the complaint, he found the cracks were coming from the back of the house.

“There were pipes at the back in between his house and the neighbour’s house, but we did not do any work on them.”

Jones agreed that the cracks in Mvumvu’s house were serious and it was not safe living there. He said the cause of the cracks might be that the “house was not built on proper foundations” from the beginning.

“I understand that someone has got to take responsibility for this, but it is not us and unfortunately we cannot do anything about it,” said Jones.

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TOPICS:  Government Housing