Gate opens big debate

The pedestrian gate in Hibiscus Street which gives access to Durban Road.

Ridgeworth residents say thieves are using a pedestrian gate in their neighbourhood as a quick escape route and they want it closed.

The gate is in Hibiscus Way, and Alfred Perry stays in nearby Begonia Way. 

“We have had a number of break-ins this year, and when the police arrive on the scene the thieves are long gone because they ran through the gate,” he said.

“It’s unsafe to park our cars in the streets at night because they get broken into all the time. A bakkie belonging to one of our neighbours has become a frequent target for the thieves.”

But Mr Perry conceded not everyone wanted the gate closed – it’s a short-cut to nearby shops and a taxi pick-up point.

“Yes the gate does give us easy access to the shops nearby, but is the price of inconvinience worth more than safety? Also, there is not a pedestrian crossing on the other side of the gate, and Durban Road is quite busy, so anybody going across there to use the gate is taking a hell of  risk. The other thing to mention is that the point where the taxis stop is on a red line, so they can run the risk of getting fined if they stop there.”

Bellville police spokesperson Captain Johnnathan Blankenberg confirmed that a number of break-ins had been reported in the area over the past few months and numerous calls had been made to the police about suspicious individuals in the area.

According to Mr Perry, the wall had been built about 18 years ago to dampen noise from the nearby nightclub.

“We were happy with the wall but nobody asked for this gate to be put up and that is when the issues started happening. In the start, there was somebody who came to open and close the gate but that also brought up fights regarding the times, so now the gate just remains open 24/7,” Mr Perry said.

The City said it only received a request in July for the gate to be closed and due process would have to be followed.

The Begonia Way residents say they drew up a petition about four years ago to close the gate but nothing had happened.

Mayco member for transport, Felicity Purchase said a public participation process on the issue would be held in October and foot traffic through the gate would be monitored to see how often it was used.

“The process will be as inclusive as possible and in line with the relevant by-laws. The outcome of the public participation process will be referred to the sub-council for a recommendation.”

The residents though are not impressed by this approach.

Mr Perry said: “We have heard this all before. When the petition was drawn up, we got the notice that the gate would be closed, and we had people here monitoring the situation. Hopefully this time things will actually happen.”

But Ms Purchase said the City’s original survey of the public opinion, which was done in June 2017, had found the community split down in the middle on the issue, so the proposal had been shelved.