Landlord leaves disabled student without power



October 18, 2016
Landlord leaves disabled student without power

KEPT IN THE DARK: Allen Petersen, 26

Tetraplegic man has no electricity at home to charge his wheelchair.

A disabled, wheelchair-bound varsity student is literally stuck after the electricity went off at his house.

The family’s power has been cut off by the City of Cape Town after their landlord failed to pay his krag bill, which now stands at a whopping R74 000.

For the past month, Allen Petersen has had to come home to a dark house, with no way to charge his wheelchair or laptop.

Allen, 26, was born tetraplegic — meaning he’s lame from the neck down.

While there is nothing wrong with his mind, Allen cannot speak, and has a scribe to assist him with his studies, as well as a fulltime carer to help with other bodily needs.

His father Randall Petersen, 56, says it has been a tough time coping without lights at their home in Flamingo Crescent, Colorado.

“My monthly rent to the landlord includes water and electricity and I had no idea he was swindling us in this manner,” he says.

“Allen spends most of his time at a residence on campus, he has no choice. We barely get to see him on weekends unless we drive there.

“I cannot care for my son when a necessity like power has been taken away.”

Allen studies sociology, political science, public law and public administration at UCT.

He’s an A-student but Randall fears his son’s grades will suffer.

“I even arranged to see the City so we can work out a plan and get the electricity back on, but nothing has been sorted yet,” the dad adds

“My other kids are living with family now.”

Acting Mayoral Committee Member for Finance, Councillor Johan van der Merwe confirms the power was cut in September.

He says: “But due to the tenant’s emergency request, an instruction was given to reconnect services on 26 September 2016 based on his promise to make payment on the account and to enter into an agreed payment arrangement.”

He says the landlord failed to honour this agreement.

“The last payment was received in June 2015,” says Van der Merwe.

He says an inspector was sent to assess Allen’s situation at home, but found he was living on UCT’s campus.

UCT spokeswoman Pat Lucas confirms Allen is enrolled as a third-year student, but would not comment on his living arrangement.

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