Vagrancy is at the heart of much of the crime and grime plaguing Goodwood, neighbourhood watches told Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz at a meeting last week.
The meeting followed one Mr Fritz attended last June with Police Minister Bheki Cele, and it is the first in a series he plans to hold with watches across the province.
There were about 50 people at the Tygerdal Dutch Reformed Church, including representatives from neighbourhood watches that cover Glenwood, Goodwood, Monte Vista, Plattekloof Glen and Tygerdal& Glenwood neighbourhood watches, Goodwood police, the community police forum, the ratepayers’ association and security firms.
They complained about prostitution, dumping and drug dealing along Voortrekker Road, abandoned houses, released prisoners, drag racing and what they felt was the rampant issuing of liquor licences.
Christine Philip, a member of the Goodwood Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said the community was a prime example of the “broken-window theory” – the view that doing nothing about urban decay and minor transgressions leads to more serious crime.
Leona van Wyk, chairwoman of the Goodwood Neighbourhood Watch, told how two people living along the railway line at Monte Vista under the N7 bridge had gone unchecked and now numbered more than 14 (“Residents fed up with vagrancy,” Northern News, July 25, 2018).
She said the vagrants were often drunk and there were frequent fights; they intruded into residents’ gardens to find water; they caused fires; and they slept in front of businesses.
And on the corner of Hamilton and Voortrekker roads a former office block was turning into a slum with more that 600 people living in Patrollers raised concern because the building is a maze of rooms that posed fire and health hazards.
James Ellis, chairman of the Glenwood Neighbourhood Watch, said law enforcement removed vagrants but they returned two hours later to build new shelters (“Concern over Vasco squatters,” Northern News January 15).
Ms Van Wyk said the parking lot of an N1 City take-away was a late-night meeting spot for drag racers. They scattered when traffic officers arrived, but police needed to be more visible and respond quicker, she said.
She also complained that there were too many places in Goodwood where liquor was sold – 60 along the 2.5km stretch of Jakes Gerwel and Giel Basson drives, she said, noting that 17 were clubs, pubs and bottle stores and 43 were restaurants.
Many of those businesses were within 500m of a school or church, she said.
The meeting also heard a complaint that pop-up taxi ranks on the corner of Voortrekker Road and Townsend Street and Giel Basson and Frans Conradie drives were causing traffic jams.
Carina Maddix, of Tygerdal and Glenwood Neighbourhood Watch, said there have been many smash and grabs on the N1 bridge at Monte Vista railway station. Under the bridge, patrollers had found human faeces, rotting food and litter.
Patrollers had seen children near the N1 bridge had been seen by patrollers sniffing glue. The children had told the patrollers they begged all day and performed sexual acts to get a place to sleep and beg.
According to Ms Maddix, police say they can’t pick the children up after hours because it is too dangerous. Parow police were at the meeting but did not comment on this, neither did they respond to our follow-up questions by the time this edition went to print.
Mr Fritz said he would set up a meeting with the provincial Department of Social Development to come up with a plan for the street children.
Goodwood watch patroller and Goodwood Ratepayers and Residents Association committee member, Desmond Galloway, suggested running a pilot project to regularly remove vagrants, such as those on Vasco Boulevard.
Ms Philip suggested gloved clean-ups of areas by residents.
Vic Barra, chairman of the Monte Vista and Plattekloof Glen Neighbourhood Watch, asked for cameras on the highway to spot criminals entering private properties.
Neil Byers, of Byers Security, asked for more police boots on the ground.
Mr Fitz said there was a plan to get 50 more investigators and 500 officers on the beat.
Mr Fritz vowed to work with the community, including prominent role players, such as GrandWest, and invest in supporting the youth and placing security kiosks along the Voortrekker Corridor. The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management would be invited by him to visit the area’s hot spots with the patrollers, he said.
Addressing crime and grime at Goodwood station, Mr Fritz said Eskom had recently threatened to cut the power supply to the rail network because the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) hadn’t paid the bill.
Eskom’s media room confirmed a Prasa supply point, Eersteriver Traction, had been disconnected at 10am on Tuesday January 21, “due to non-payment of the arrears on their account”, but they did not divulge the amount.
On Wednesday January 22, Metrorail spokeswoman Riana Scott said, “Metrorail Western Cape acknowledges receipt of Eskom’s invoice where we also confirm that it has been elevated to the highest authority within Prasa. And we remain confident that arrangements will be made timeously to settle matters satisfactory as Prasa is committed to meet its financial obligations. At this stage, it has no effect on customers, and we will make contingency arrangements should it come to that.”
According to Eskom, Prasa subsequently paid the arrears during the afternoon and the power was restored at 5.04pm on the same day as proof of payment was received.