Mutual Heights

14 Darling Street, Cape Town 8001

This web site serves the needs of the Mutual Heights Community - residents, tenants, owners, service providers and others.

Mutual Heights was one of the first conversions of an office building to residential use in the central business district of Cape Town.  In this case, the office building is very special, being one of the finest art deco  buildings in the southern hemisphere.  Opened in 1940, the "Mutual Building" (or "Mutual Gebou" in Afrikaans) was reportedly then the tallest building in Africa (apart from the Pyramids in Egypt), and it had the fastest lifts.  They still work, and they are still fast!  

Read more about the history of the building here.  See our wikipedia page here.  See the location of the building here.  Contact us at info@mutualheights.net

Latest news:

Date: Item
27 October 2016Damp works.  Now that the summer is upon us, the work on the exterior of the building will re-commence.  Right now we are waiting for pemissions from the Western Cape Heritage office but hopefully this will not take more than a few weeks. 
Owners and residents who consider that they have urgent damp problems to deal with are invited to contact us in order to register them, and so that we can prioritise the work accordingly.  Bear in mind that we have already undertaken two surveys, in 2008 and in 2012, the results of which can be perused here.  This history is the basis of our current prioritisation.  Check out the history before submitting your reports. 
3 October 2016Optical Fibre data services.  Please be advised that we are evaluating the options for the installation of fibre communications services in the building.  There are a range of options, but following the survey (see below) it looks like we will go ahead.  Owners or residents with experience of local or other fibre internet services are invited to share them with trustees, as we assemble all the evidence and make the decision which way to go.  
29 February 2016
2016 Internet and Web site Survey:  
Owners and Residents are invited to complete a new survey that is intended to evaluate the installation of FIBRE SERVICES to the building, and the style and content of THIS WEB SITE.  It's on Google Forms, and it can be found here:
29 February 2016Newsletter 35 is now available with the others here .  It deals with the deployment of the settlement funds, the levy increase, the Internet and Web Site survey (yes, that's THIS web site), and other things.   
7 February 2016A maintenance schedule is now available on the web site, here, and will be updated monthly.  Any reports of maintenance problems that need attention can be sent to info@mutualheights.net.
26 December 2015Conclusion of the litigation with Old Mutual:  In November, two judgements were handed down by the High Court in Cape Town, in light of which the defendent made an offer to settle the matter.  This was accepted and the agreed amount has been transferred to the Body Corporate. The matter is therefore now closed.  
The two judgements include some relevance should other sectional title disputes come to a similar situation, as South African law is seemingly devoid of any previous cases where a Body Corporate persued a 'developer' for eight years, with a satisfactory outcome.  The judgements are available for download here.  Note that these are scanned and quite poor quality images that might not show in your browser - download the files and open them in a proper PDF viewer.  
17 November 2015Newsletter Number 32 summarises the situation at the end of the second week of the litigation. This week there has been more activity 'in chambers' than in the High Court. The newsletter is available here.
9 November 2015Newsletter Number 31 about our claim against the developers, which is now in the High Court, is available here.
8 January 2015I just found out how to top up your Dynacomm internet services from anywhere in the world - really useful when your paying guests call you to complain that THEIR card is not accepted.  The internet payment gateway that Dynacomm use seems to have problems with foreign cards from time to time. What you have to do is go directly to the purchase page here:
and choose the package that you want from the list.  It leads you painlessly through the process, provided that YOUR card is accepted.  The system them emails you and sends a text to your phone with the log on details that you can  pass on to your guests or whoever is in the apartment at the time.   Please tell us if you have problems with the service that Dynacomm provide, they tell me that they are working on a new system ... 
17 December 2014Examples of the latest SCAM "correspondence" are available for your inspection here - do not get involved in "deals" that look like this ...
17 November 2014Newsletter Number 29 about progress with the damp works and our claim against the developers is available here.
19 October 2014Minutes of the AGM are now available here.  
1 October 2014The AGM is done, thank you to those that attended and those that sent in proxy forms.  The minutes of the meeting will be available soon.  

In the meantime, please have a look at "How to be a good neighbour in Mutual Heights" - guidelines that were attached to the Chairman's report, and which are now loaded here for all to see.  

I am also making available an edited version of the story of the creation of our famous 
stone frieze (and the other decorations on the building) provided some time ago by Giovanni Adolfo Camerada;  he kindly provided details of his family's memories about the context in which the stone masons worked, as work on the building progressed at the same time that WWII broke out, in 1938-39.  Giovanni has a copy of this edited summary, and I am sure he will fill in any further details that he has, especially if anyone has questions.  This is a really interesting story, which highlights the question of who should get the credit for works of art like the frieze:  the one who conceived it (Ivan Mitford-Barberton) or those who executed it (Adolfo Lorenzi and his four brothers) - go read this story now!  
12 September 2014Those people expecting to attend the Annual General Meeting on 22nd September (usual time, usual place) please note that there will be an update to the Chairman's report following the completion of the investigative window removal, inspection and refurbishment project.  Reports are being prepared right now.  This will provide some clarification about the state of the building and the steps that we must take.  You should try hard to be there, or if not to make sure that you have completed and submitted your proxy form.  The meeting papers are available from the management office.  Thank you!    
12 September 2014And yet another update regarding rental scams (we need to open a new section for these reports!) the new name and message is as follows:

Brenda Masilela [mailto:brendamasilela@hotmail.com]

Sent: 11 September 2014 10:13 PM
Subject: RE: New contact for: 2br Apartment for Rent! Cape Town

Hello,  I'm a project manager in civil engineering. I just moved in West Africa because my company has won an auction for a big construction project. I'll stay here for the next 3-4 years or more so I won't come back soon. I'm looking for someone to live in my Apartment from there.

 I will tell you from the beginning that I don't have a problem if you are a student or if you would like to keep pets there, as long as you clean up after them. The minimum lease is available for Long and also Short Term Lease, very important, the utilities are included in the price per month.

 Address: 14 Darling Street, Cape Town 8000, South Africa

This scammer uses the same photo as the one below (which bears no resemblance to our building!) ... please do not get involved!

11 July 2014

And yet another update regarding rental scams - the new name is "Marthie tracy (marthie123@hotmail.com)" using the same familiar format - avoid this one please!  Many of the scams use this photograph of the "apartment":  

This NOT an apartment in Mutual Heights, you can tell immediately from the design of the windows (compare this picture with the the photo of the building above, and elsewhere).
2 June 2014

Yet another update regarding rental scams - the new name is "Gabriel Mark (gabrielmark1@outlook.com)" using the same familiar format - avoid this one please!

3 April 2014

Yet another update regarding rental scams - the new name is "Dickson John" (dicksonjohn1@outlook.com) advertising on Gumtree.  In case you have not seen enough of how this is done, here is an extract from the opening correspondence:

From: dickson john <dicksonjohn1@outlook.com>
Date: 2 April 2014 10:54
Subject: RE: Reply to your Ad on Gumtree: "1 Bedroom with Garage, Water & Trash Paid"
To: XXXXX

Hello,

 
I got a contract job in an engineering company for a construction project as part of the structural engineers to build a highrise building in West Africa. I am a Building tech specialist, so my accommodation period in Lagos will be about 4 years, so that's the reason why i am renting out the unit. I do not intend to make profit out of it all i want is to find a good and clean person to take good care of the place. I`m the owner of the unit and it is furnished but if you want you can make use of your furniture's and help keep mine in the storage locker which is situated both in the unit and in the building and these does not attracts any funds.


and so on ... still looking for a "good and clean person" !  See the note below (1st Feb) if you want to verify the authenticity of any offers purporting to concern apartments at Mutual Heights.

19 February 2014
A newsletter (number 28) about progress with the damp works, legal claim and the forthcoming special levy is here.
1 February 2014
Yet another update regarding rental scams - the new name is "Dyan Ellie" (dyan.ellie@outlook.com ) advertising on Gumtree (but we see the ad has been removed).  Beware if you see this scam elsewhere, the "story" concerns working "for the United Nations Development Programmed (UNDP) http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home.html in NIGERIA, so my  accommodation period in LAGOS will be about 2 years, so that's the reason why i am renting out the unit. I do not intend to make profit out of it all i want is to find  a good and clean person to take good care of the place."  If you have never seen these scams before, this is exactly the sort of invention that the scammers use.  A hint of credibility with a meaningless and unsubstantiated link to the UN (or somewhere with a web site!), an international move pending or just happened, and "just looking for a good and clean person ...".  

If you want to verify a rental opportunity at Mutual Heights, you can approach the management office but please provide the NAME of the OWNER and the APARTMENT NUMBER - without this information we can not help you.  Please note that the Building Management and the Body Corporate do NOT get directly involved in renting and sales - there are many agencies that will assist you, and web sites that will inform you.   
14 January 2013Questionnaire regarding the condition of the windows - This is the last call for your questionnaires about the condition of the windows.  We need this simple information for the legal arguments. ~

To save your time and ours, please go to the online questionnaire here

If that does not work for you 
a short newsletter has gone out that includes a printable version of the form.   
25 November 2013Questionnaire regarding the condition of the windows - Trustees have been extremely busy with the legal processes concerning our claim against the developers - Old Mutual Properties - based upon the problems we have been experiencing with damp.  It has, after all, been a very long and wet winter here in the Western Cape.  A particular issue has arisen in regard to the condition of the windows, and the corrosion that was known about right at the start of the conversion project (but again, seems to have not been dealt with properly).  Owners and residents are invited to fill out a very short questionnaire concerning the condition of the "mullions" - those are the square, steel posts on either side of your windows.  Please go to the online questionnaire here, or you can download a printable version that you can return to the office here.   We will also be distributing actual paper copies of the questionnaire to all apartments - if you are in the building you can wait to take that option if you wish.  Thanks. 
2 September 2013There are NEW instructions for setting up your DSTV decoder - both "Single View" and "PVR" decoders.  If necessary, there are even instructions for erasing your "Flash Memory" (we hope, for your sake, it does not come to that ... !)

26 June 2013

Yet another update regarding rental scams - The latest SCAMMER is using the name "Elizabeth Alan" and the email  elizabethalan58@gmail.com - you are warned.   There are other scammers around.  Send us details including name and apartment number that is offered, if you are worried. 

3 May 2013The May 2013 newsletter is here - number 24.  The first distribution (by email) was erroneously dated "October 2013" - it should have said "May 2013" of course.  Sorry for any confusion ...
26 April 2013
Yet another update regarding rental scams - the new name is "Shin Nelson" (shinnelson@yahoo.com ) and he has been advertising on:  http://www.freepropertyads.co.za.  He provides photographs that are clearly not of our building.  
March 2013Yet another update regarding rental scams - reports have been received that someone calling him or herself Vivian Joseph" is offering an apartment in Mutual Heights, with photos.  This is another scam.  Again, you should not send ANY money to people you do not know, until you are COMPLETELY satisfied that they are genuine.
2nd January 2013 Update regarding rental scams - reports have been received that someone calling himself Tony Floris <tonyfloris11@hotmail.com> is offering an apartment in Mutual Heights.  It does not exist, and the photos he is using to advertise the "apartment"have been taken from the web.  Do not send ANY money to people you do not know, until you are COMPLETELY satisfied that they are genuine.
10 September 2012
Details of insurance "excess" (the amount that a claimant has to pay in the event of a claim) are now available here.
NOTICE TO PROSPECTIVE TENANTS
Be very careful - this building and others in Cape Town are still the subject of multiple scams that will defraud you if you are suckered in - see below for one example. 
Do not send ANY money to people you do not know until you are COMPLETELY satisfied that they are genuine. 
The building management office will be happy to check the names of people claiming to "own" properties here.  There is very little else that we can do about this.  Caveat emptor.

17 July 2012

The AGM is to be held on Thursday this week - please can all owners endeavour to be there, or make sure you complete and submit a proxy form to the management office.  The agenda and proxy form are available here. The Chairman's report is also here in case you want to read it before the meeting.
09 March 2012
This is one of those ANODES like you find in your geyserThis is an ANODE - in fact a SACRIFICIAL ANODE - and you should have one in your geyser. 

These anodes need to be replaced at least every five years otherwise you could be headed for trouble (even a complete geyser replacement).  We are thinking of organising a "bulk buy" whereby your anodes can be replaced at optimum cost, probably over a chosen weekend.  If you are interested in seeing what the cost would be, please contact the office so that we can add your name to the list. 

Click on the picture to see a larger image.

UPDATE 2013 - the bulk buy did not materialise - sorry, but you have to make arrangements yourself.
29 February 2012 The DSTV equipment has been upgraded and there are NEW instructions for setting up your SINGLE VIEW decoder here, and your HD PVR decoder here .
22 February 2012 The Chairman's newsletter for February 2012 is now available here.  We are asking Owners and Occupiers to complete a simple survey concerning the damp works - a web version of the questionnaire can be found here.  One response only per unit please!   
1 December 2011 NOTICE TO PROSPECTIVE TENANTS:  More on the scam.  We have three or four reports that potential tenants have been dealing with someone calling himself ROBERT SPOONER, who is working with someone calling himself JOSE ARANDA GUTIERREZ.  They seem to be falsely offering accommodation in Mutual Heights using GUMTREE.  We have been in touch with the real Robert Spooner, who confirms that he has nothing whatever to do with this. 

Their story involves a dead father, keys coming by courier (that never arrive), and (of course) deposits and payments that are lost for ever.  They have images of passports that are almost certainly falsified, for example:

IF you have any more information about scams that needs to be shared with the community, please let us know without delay.  In the meantime please follow the advice below!

1 October 2011 There is a scam running around where people are PRETENDING to own and rent out units in our building (and elsewhere - this is not confined to Mutual Heights).  They are asking for substantial sums of money as deposit before releasing the keys.  Oddly, these people are usually in distant places, and sometimes there is a bereavement involved to explain why property is suddenly available.  Do not get suckered into this nonsense, and do not send ANY money to people you do not know, without protecting your interests.
16 July 2011 The instructions for setting your DSTV decoder are now available here.  See above for an update
12 March 2011 A copy of an article about the building, published in the "South African Architect" journal in 1940, is now available here.  It is a scanned copy (7Mb) so it will take a little time to download.  It includes some artists' impressions of the building, and photographs, but the quality is poor being based on a scanned photocopy.  A copy of the text only (2.3Mb) is available here.
21 February 2011 The Chairman's newsletter for February 2011 is now available here. Remedial work is finally starting on the few apartments that are seriously affected by damp and summons have been served on the developer and their contractors.  We will continue to keep you informed.
15 January 2011 The very hot weather has accelerated our thinking about energy management in the building.  We are going to seek expert advice about air conditioning, and other aspects of energy consumption (including how to reduce the cost of keeping all those light bulbs shining).  If you have opinions, or expertise in these matters, then please get in touch with us.
14 January 2011 Tenders have been received for the remedial works (see 1st November below), and following our evaluation of those tenders work will begin (within the scope of our existing budget) this month as soon as the construction industry gets back to work.  We will keep you informed. 
28th December 2010 There is now a wikipedia page concerning the Mutual Building - check it out and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions as to how we might extend or improve it (or, get in there and edit the page directly if you are a practiced wikipedian!). You will find it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mutual_Building_(Mutual_Gebou),_Cape_Town
1st November 2010 After interminable efforts to establish what needs to be done and how it might be done (we actually disassembled parts of windows and put them back together again!), owners and affected residents will be pleased to know that during November we will be issuing invitations to tender for the remedial works discussed at the AGM, and that we are specifying that work should start in the new year.  If that sounds like the start of something, not the end, then please be assured it is the end of the beginning!  It is likely that the Tower and the Long Street elevation will be the first sections of the exterior to be dealt with.

Our thanks go out to the task force that worked on this problem (comprising volunteers from the Mutual Heights community), and to the building and damp management experts who have assisted us.  A newsletter with full details is on its way.  

24th May 2010 The date of the Annual General Meeting is now 8th June - sorry for the late notice here on the web site, but you should have received the official notice by now.  Hope to see you there, don't forget to fill in the proxy form if you are not able to attend.
19th March 2010 The Chairman's newsletter for March 2010 is now available here.  This reports further on the legal situation in regard to the damp problems, and remedial works. Note that the planned date for the next AGM is 27th May 2010 - please diarise the date now.
22nd February 2010 The trustees are looking forward to meeting residents and owners at the new year party, this week.  In answer to the desperate scribbled comments on the notices (in the lifts and elsewhere), the venue is the Fresco Room on the eighth level, and there is no charge.  

Note that there will be extra security on duty that evening. 

18th January 2010  The Chairman's newsletter for January 2010 is now available here.  This reports  on the legal situation in regard to the damp problems, and proposals for remedial works on the exterior of the building.  
17th January 2010 One of the most distinctive features of the building is the extraordinary FRIEZE around the three sides:  Darling Street, Parliament Street, and Longmarket Street.  It is reportedly 386 feet (about 120 metres) long.  For a long time I have wanted to try and photograph it, and on Christmas Day three weeks ago it was so quiet out in the streets that a first attempt was successfully accomplished.  Apart from two sections that need to be re-photographed, and the fact that a few leaves on the trees obscure the corner, most of the Frieze is there.  Have a look here (it's a 1.4Mb download so it will not come immediately).

Here is how it starts:

When it loads you might just see a long thin strip on your screen - click on it and it should come to the proper size.  Scroll to the right and the left to see the whole thing. 

The first two sections (on the Darling Street side) depict Van Riebeeck landing (to the left of the front door) and the 1820 settlers arriving (to the right). Around the corner, the inscriptions below the pictures in Parliament Street include:

1622 - Post Office Stones
1666 - Die Kasteel
1834 - Emancipation of Slaves
1835 - Durban
1837 - Voortrekkers
1857 - Nongkause
1871 - Kimberly

See if you can locate them on the visuals.  I will be working on the missing parts when the leaves fall from the trees so that we can see them. 

26 June 2009 The Chairman's newsletter for June 2009 is now available here. (Also the one for April, which seems to have previously escaped this tabulated news on the front page!).  The June newsletter gives you a quick report on the damp management project, more will be revealed at the Annual General Meeting.  See you there!
25 June 2009 The date of the Annual General Meeting is now set for Thursday 30th July 2009 at 6pm. It will take place in the Fresco Hall on the 8th Floor.  The formal notice, agenda and relevant documentation will be circulated to all owners early next week.   Please put the date in your diary….. Thursday 30th July 2009 at 6pm.
3 March 2009 The Chairman's newsletter for February 2009 is now available here.  
28 January 2009 Owners and residents should be aware that we have undertaken a damp penetration survey, and we have received 17 reports of damp ingress, some relating to the structure and some to internal problems - some are significant and some are not (see the 7 Nov 2008 notice below).  We have now met with specialists, and we will soon be choosing who will advise us on how to solve the problems.  It has also been suggested that we form a task force to assist and manage the process on behalf of the community - if you are interested in joining such a team, do please contact us at info@mutualheights.net
26 January 2009 Just in case you have not noticed the many emails, and the posters in the lifts, please be advised that the ANNUAL PARTY will be held at 19h00 on Thursday 29th January, in the Fresco Room on the eighth floor. See you there!
7 November 2008 The Chairman's newsletter for November 2008 is now available here.  It summarises the proceedings of the AGM (Minutes will be circulated soon) and also announces a survey of damp problems within the building.  If you want to report a damp penetration problem for the attention of the trustees, please download and submit a report - a simple report form is available here.  In case of any difficulty, you can always just email details to us at the usual email address:  info@mutualheights.net 
29 September 2008 The 2008 Annual General Meeting has been scheduled to take place at 6pm on Thursday 23rd October 2008 in the Fresco Hall, 8th Floor, Mutual Heights, 14 Darling Street, Cape Town. Because there are Special Resolutions which will be put to members for consideration trustees are obliged to give 30 days notice of this meeting and to send copies by pre-paid registered post. The "hard" copy AGM packs were posted on the 22nd September 2008. But, if the building manager has your email address, you should have received a "soft" copy by now.  See you there!
10 September 2008 Your webmaster hears reports that work is to begin soon on two things we have been waiting for:  the new garage door and the new security doors in the entrance hall.  The first will require everyone to have new buttons to get in the garage (shame!) but will be infinitely more secure and might even work reliably without breaking down (hurray!);  in the entrance hall the lifts will be secured using new glass screens across the top of the stairs, with secured doors within them (I guess you will have to use your white card to get to the lifts).  We are happy that both of these developments will improve the security arrangements, and we may even be able to keep the main front doors open later in the evening.  Further news will emanate from the manager's office in due course. 
24 August 2008 The Chairman's newsletter for March 2008 is available here (belatedly, again) - it concerns the budget for the new financial year, and anticipates the AGM (we are aiming for October, date to be confirmed soon).
23 August 2008

The Chairman's newsletter for February 2008 is available here (belatedly - sorry about that - AB) - it provides information  about the new arrangements for payment of rates to the City administration.  This is now the direct responsibility of owners, where before it was done for you by the Body Corporate. 
Please note that the email address given for Mr Mark Lewis in the circulated copy of the newsletter is incorrect - the correct address is mark.lewis@capetown.gov.za, as given in the copy of the newsletter provided here .

28 Nov  2007 The new Chairman's newsletter for November 2007 is now available here - it provides additional background on the "Old Mutual Sign" saga, and useful updates on other issues such as the re-cycling of rubbish - we are to initiate an experiment and we seek the co-operation of all residents!  More about this is coming from the managing agents, soon. 
21 Nov 2007 You will have noticed that the basement garage door is broken yet again.  A security guard has been posted to continuously monitor access while this problem prevails - if you do not actually see the guard he will not be far away. Note that we will be installing a NEW, much more secure access system, with unique identities on the access buttons.  That way, if a button is lost or stolen, it can be disabled and rendered useless. 
27 Sept 2007 Your trustees have now (finally!) concluded an agreement with Old Mutual for the continued display of the huge "Old Mutual" sign on the east side of the building. Your chairperson, Paul Rippon, and the building manager, Charles Keefer, are to be complimented on their persistent dealings with Old Mutual management, over an extended period of time.  
Income from the rental (two years have been agreed, the second year is now imminent) will be used to build a reserve fund, and to improve the building.  We are considering suggestions to beautify the Atrium - any suggestions are welcome. 
26 Sept 2007 Added instructions for visitor access - you can use your cell phone to let visitors into the building. 
16 June 2007 Here is some real but interesting trivia.  We are in touch with Randy Juster in the USA (a serious Art Deco "fundi" who has allowed us to use one or two of his photos of the building) and he gives us the following ... 

"The largest flower delivery service in the U.S. is called FTD (Florists Transworld Delivery). For the last two Christmas seasons, FTD has run a TV ad where a flower delivery man walks into a building with a fabulous Art Deco lobby.  Believe it or not, that building is the Old Mutual. How FTD ended up making a commercial in Capetown, I have no idea." 

Well, we know why they came here, don't we!  

You might like to note that the recent AGM discussed policies for allowing filming in the building (together with many other matters - more about that soon), and there was a generally positive reaction about this.  What do you think about the use of the building for filming?  Does it upset you or delight you?  Tell us with an email to info@mutualheights.net ... your trustees want to hear from you.  

18th May 2007 The ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING is to be held in the Assembly Room (the Fresco Hall on the eighth floor) at 18hr00 on 30th May.  The documentation package can be downloaded here. If you are not able to attend you are URGED to submit your PROXY FORM to the managing agent, so that a quorate meeting can be allowed to proceed with this important business.  We look forward to seeing you there, there will be refreshments afterwards ...
17th May 2007 A complete copy of the Mutual Building Heritage Report is now available here - this interesting report provides information about the history of the building, the heritage "content", and even provides floor plans for every floor (including the basement).  It is a large (scanned) file - we are seeking out an "original" copy that would be smaller and clearer, but in the meantime here is what we have.  
11th May 2007 The first version of the web site is now essentially complete, and available for general use.  
25th April 2007 This web updated to include all basic content (but there is much more to come - watch for announcements here).
24th April 2007 You now have LESS THAN ONE WEEK to object to your rating valuation - go to www.capetown.gov.za to check it out.  See the Chairman's newsletter on this matter. 
30th March 2007 The Mutual Heights "Internet Survey" report is available here. You will need the free Acrobat reader to access the contents (and most of the other documents on this web). 
29th March 2007 This web site initiated


Web site last updated: 26 December 2015