From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 11th August 2011
Frustrated by a noisy club in Buiten Street, property developer, Geoff Madsen said he has had enough and can’t understand why City officials don’t take action. Mr Madsen is one of the developers of Flatrock Suites and said the Chez Ntemba nightclub continued to operate even though the City has confirmed that it is trading without a Health and Entertainment Licence. Mr Madsen said after he had taken Chez Ntemba to court for causing a noise nuisance it was instructed to close and fulfil the requirements set out by the City but it had failed to do so (“Noise battles continue”, CapeTowner, April 14).
The manager of the club had left and since then the noise had become unbearable. “When the manager, Lindi, left the noise became excessive. So one night I walked around the precinct from Joburg to Fiction to see where the noise was coming from. “One of the guys from Fiction took me to a room which overlooks Chez Ntemba and we could clearly hear that the noise was coming from there. “So I went to Chez Ntemba to try and sort it out. I was introduced to a man by the name of Serge who said he was the manager. “I took him and one of his DJs to my apartment to hear for themselves. “They said they would sort out the problem. However, the noise is now unbearable and I can’t find the manager anywhere. “The bass is so bad that I can’t even watch television from my couch without my whole body vibrating,” he said.
Mr Madsen said that like many other property developers he bought into the idea of developing the inner city to make it a great place to “live, play and work”, but he was worried that his investment was dwindling as many of the owners were now selling their apartments. “There are also hotel suites in the block and many guests check out in the early hours. Visitors have also been blogging about Flatrock Suites and the building is getting a bad reputation because people can’t sleep. “What makes it worse is that owners are selling their properties at 20% less than the market value,” he said. Last week Mr Madsen invited the CapeTowner to “experience” the noise.
The CapeTowner checked in on Friday August 5. The ambient sounds of nightclubs and cars passing by could be heard after 9pm; At 11pm, we could hear loud music and a DJ speaking but we could not pinpoint where the noise was coming from. We went into Buiten Street but there was no noise from Chez Ntemba. When we returned to the ninth floor apartment of Flatrock Suites loud music and bass could be heard from Chez Ntemba. The CapeTowner saw the roof of the club rattle along with the bass.
After two hours we called the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) control room for assistance. The assistant said she would send a vehicle and later called back to say the official on the street could not hear any noise. When asked if a CCID vehicle which had a Law Enforcement Officer could see to the complaint, she said: “We only have one law enforcement officer and he is filling in a statement at Cape Town Central police station. We will send him when he is done”. The officer did not arrive. We then called the Metro Police for assistance and told the operator that the club did not have a licence. The operator said a vehicle would come soon. It did not arrive. The loud music and bass continued for most of the night and stopped shortly after 4.30am on Saturday August 6.
Byron Qually, convenor of the Long Street Residents’ Association (LSRA), said he has had numerous discussions with restaurateurs in the area adjacent to the nightclub. “They relate the arrival of exhausted and desperate residents who are battling to cope with sleepless nights caused by Chez Ntemba’s noise pollution,” he said. Mr Qually said the association was aware of similar cases where residents have left their apartments because of noisy clubs. “It is a great shame that two of the first LSRA members have been forced to leave their Long Street home of 14 years, due to the performance of their managing agent. “The agent allowed a night-club, Fatback Soulbar, to set up in the building without obtaining the required approval from their residents.
“Expectedly, noise pollution disrupted the residents’ sleep, and after a lengthy and public dispute, the LSRA members had to leave their homes because the excessive noise continued,” he said. Mr Qually said that in Victoria Court, the residential block in which he lives, he has seen property owners lose income because tenants terminated lease agreements due to nightclub noise. “Unfortunately this trend is increasing, and in some cases this is due to residents not having the legal resources to take a club or managing agent to court, but also as is becoming evident, the extremely slow moving and largely ineffective City’s Health Department, who just seem unable to mediate or resolve nightclub noise disputes,” he said.
In previous comment provided by the City, Health Director, Dr Ivan Bromfield said the club was fined R1 000 on October 7, 2007 (for causing a noise disturbance). “Thereafter the owner was summonsed to court in February 2008 without the option of an admission of guilt fine. “On August 21, 2008 the court closed the premises until Friday August 27, 2010 for compliance with the requirements as it related to the emission of noise,” he said. Dr Bromfield confirmed that the club does not have a Health and Entertainment Licence and said according to the department’s records the last application was made in 2007 but said it had since been withdrawn. “The City Health department cannot close any premises. “It is the the court’s decision,” Dr Bomfield said.
The CapeTowner has tried on several occasions to contact the club’s management for comment. The previous manager who is known only as Lindi said she no longer worked at the club and referred the CapeTowner to Tony Muller, the club’s general manager. The CapeTowner has tried to contact Mr Muller on several times but he had not responded to questions the CapeTowner emailed him. The CapeTowner also tried to find the new manager known as Serge, but was told by the doorman he was not there.
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