The notorious “White House” in Sunnyside, which has been a drug den and hub of criminal activity for more than a decade, will be nothing more than rubble in a couple of days.
The City of Tshwane officially started demolishing the building on Wednesday morning after it was cleared of people and their belongings.
A loader spent most of the day tearing down the building’s exterior walls, ending the life-cycle of what has become an infamous building in the city.
The “White House” is synonymous with crime, homelessness and the drug culture in Sunnyside, which has led to numerous complaints being laid over the years.
It was originally a Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) club in Pretoria.
The White House in Sunnyside (Alex Mitchley, News24)
Tshwane’s MMC for community safety and emergency services, Karen Meyer, told the media the derelict building had been used as a temporary base for criminal activity for years, leading to an increase in crime in the area.
Complaints received about the “White House” ranged from smash and grabs, theft, assault and drug use. It has also been used as a shelter by homeless people in Tshwane.
The infamous White House in Sunnyside is being demolished. (Alex Mitchley, News24)
Meyer said the building was condemned and declared uninhabitable which led to the decision to tear it down.
She added occupants were given 48 hours to vacate the premises, saying raids on Monday and Tuesday came up empty-handed as they had already fled.
As the demolition was underway, “residents” of the infamous building expressed their displeasure with the City’s decision to demolish it.
One man, who did not want to be named, told News24 he had been living in the “White House” for almost a decade and that all its occupants were law-abiding citizens.
He said the demolition would leave scores of people without a roof over their heads, including children and pregnant women.
“Our concern is where are we going now. We have no help.”
The ward councillor for Sunnyside, Godfrey Mulaudzi, denied people would be left destitute, saying plans were in place to move them to shelters.
“We have a list of people staying here, and those who require services and shelter will be accommodated,” Mulaudzi said.
The notorious White House in Sunnyside. (Alex Mitchley, News24)