A crime-plagued Bellville parking lot has become a thorn in the side of nearby businesses.
They claim the lot – on the corner of Kruger and Bellevue streets – is a no-go area for their customers because it’s haven for prostitutes and drug users; fights break out often and vagrants use it as a toilet.
Bellville Electrical’s owner Jason Barnard, whose business faces the parking lot, said: “Because of what is happening out here in the parking lot, my business has taken a massive knock. Before, I had people coming in and out of the store on a regular basis, but now my store is empty. People just do not feel safe coming here anymore.
We have been here for 25 years, and we have built a good reputation around the area. Now during the last six or so years, I get told that we are great business, but we are in the wrong location.”
Mr Barnard said the area around his business was used as a toilet, and drugs and drug paraphernalia had been found in the vicinity.
“I have had to arrange with the tenants of the building on top of me to put up a fence around our cars because we almost lost count of how many times our vehicles were vandalised or had stuff like our rims, aerials and badges taken off.”
A bar, take-aways and a motel are also in the vicinity. T
Mr Barnard suspects it’s the motel that is the source of much of the misery.
He said: ”There is a Sleep and Go motel right there and you often see people coming in and out of there. The people at the bar are fine, they get drunk and they keep to themselves. However, with the motel there we get a lot of shady elements coming here because I suspect that is wjere all the prostitution and drug use takes place..
You even get some people that don’t need a room to do their business, so they just do it out in the open.”
A security guard chased us away from the motel when we tried to speak to management there, and attempts to contact them by phone also proved futile.
Bellville police spokesman Captain Jonathan Blankenberg said police had made several arrests as a result of complaints originating from the area and investigations were ongoing.
Mark Weedall, owner of the Mark’s Bicycle Workshop, on the corner of Karoo and Bellevue streets said he had put up a fence a year ago to shield his business from the goings-on nearby.
“If gives our customers a bit of security when they visit the store. So that has helped us, but the gate did cost me R90,000 to put up so that really hurt our pockets and we still do not enjoy as much business as we would hope.”
Before putting up the fence, staff and customers had had to step over faeces and puddles of urine to get to the shop, he said.
Mr Barnard said: “There used to be a lovely biltong shop right across the road from me, but that has been gone for a number of years now. We also had a fish-and-chips shops and a clinic that has just packed up and left, while Progress Lighting, which has been here for years, has also left. It really is a bad situation for us, and it has only gotten worse over the years.”
Mr Weedall said he had not taken a walk around the area in about eight years.