48 Mercury Crescent In A Precarious Position, While Cries For Intervention Fall On Deaf Ears

Building foundations need to be on stable and strong soils. Because soils range in strength, some soils are able to support a huge structure, while other soils are not able to support even the weight of a human. If the soil under a building is not stable, the foundation of the building could crack, sink, or worse, the building could collapse!

Number 48 Mercury Crescent  in Marriannridge is an eight family apartment which is built on a slope. This 40 year old  building  is now slipping during rainstorms. There are several reasons that land slips way but the two most relevant are; gravity and water. Gravity continually pulls soils and sand in a downward direction, and rain can make it happen faster.

Usually moderately sloped sites typically require more concrete, deeper excavation by specialised excavation equipment or retaining walls or terraces, and specialised solutions for drainage. 

The problems in this structure have been mounting insidiously, inch by unseen inch. The uneven floors, misaligned doors and wall cracks are strong signals  of this.

In addition to this, it seems that the principal causes of defects in these low-income homes is perceived to also  be related to the use of  contractors who are presumably not experienced enough, and to the use of unskilled labour by these contractors. The residents were of the opinion that poor workmanship could also be the primary cause of defects It can, therefore, be argued that; apart from adequate monitoring and inspection of projects, stakeholders in the form of  contractors and their labour should endeavour to improve their competencies pertaining to quality, and this is the responsibility of Human Settlements

All that extra labor and materials needed to ensure that building is up to code and safe to inhabit mean higher costs and longer construction times. 

Below is the actual communication between a member of the community ,Trudy Van Wyk,  to  councilor Reginald Cloete;

———- Forwarded message ———

From: Lady_Luu Van Wyk <luuvanwyk@gmail.com>

Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2019, 10:21

Subject: Flat 48 delamination

To: <Sizakala@durban.gov.za>, <sizakala@durban.gov.za>

Good morning Sir/ Ma’am

I trust you are well. 

I’ve been referee to you with the hopes of receiving some form of assistance with regards to Flat 48 in Mariannridge.  For over 20years the flat has been reported to various government officials on various platforms, the Ethekwini Municipality housing councils, the various Ward councillors who have all come & gone with no action taken regarding this matter.

Flat 48 is beyond a dilapidated state & yet still 8 families reside in it. The flat is sinking into what used to be the foundation (no longer has a foundation), the sewerage drains have already sunk in & surfaces at the back of the flat have sunk in. The walls are not stable as they have big cracks in them from the 2nd floor house pressure & there is mould (green & black moss) & mildew on the walls. The piping/ plumbing doesn’t help or work anymore all the taps, toilets & baths are leaking in the flat.

The current councillor like ALL the others has visited the flat and seen the possible catastrophe that looms and yet still no one is doing anything about this issue, since the days of former Mayor of Durban Obed Mlaba- no one has done anything. 

Perhaps the Ethekwini Municipality is waiting for the 8 families to die & then they will say sorry & throw an extravagant politicised mass funeral??? 

I would highly appreciate if you could please help me in this regard.



Message sent to Kairos News by Kenneth Botha;

[01/07 11:27 am] Kenneth Botha: Hi Lorraine, just some feedback. Lindani Mnguni from Human Settlement Ethekwini has just been to see me now. They waited on the councillor but to no avail, so I showed them everything inside and outside of the Flat. His response was that an engineer would have to come see the Flat and determine what needs to be done.

[01/07 11:38 am] Kenneth Botha: The flat need to be demolished all together and they have records of complaints about the flat. The flat has been Jacked up before and that did not help as it is sliding down the bank. New crack are visible in every block downstairs. I’ll wait to hear from the engineers and keep you posted. Thank you.

Kenneth Botha was upset by the lack of attention given to the safety of residents.

“We are in a precarious situation. Any further soil movement could be dangerous.”

“I get worried when it rains or there is a strong wind. The authorities have had enough time  to do something about it”.

By: Lorraine Richards

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