Squatters have made camps in Stellenberg’s fields, infuriating nearby residents.
The open fields stretch from beneath the N1 and towards Kraaifontein and include several forested areas.
Residents say they were alerted to the camps a few months ago when they noticed a growing number of people moving in and out of forest areas near Mountain View Road. One resident, who did not want to be named, estimated some about 20 people were living in the camps.
“They have absolutely trashed the entire surroundings of where they have been illegally occupying the land,” said resident Shaun Rouse. “The river and entire environment have totally been taken over and destroyed by the trash that they have dumped all over. There is also a lot of human faeces all over.”
The squatters were seen frequently in the streets of Stellenberg, he said. He blamed them for theft and vandalism in the area.
“Some of the residents have caught people stealing building materials from various residents’ properties on quite a few occasions. They have also been linked to the theft of various items such as copper pipes, brass taps and even water from properties. Most of the incidents occur in the hours between midnight and early morning.”
Bellville police spokesman Captain Johnathan Blankenberg confirmed several such cases had been reported in the area.
Ward 102 councillor Rhynhardt Bresler said court rulings had prevented the authorities from removing street people’s belongings or forcing them into shelters. However the City was appealing those judgments.
“In the meantime I want to ask residents to keep on reporting everything they observe so that I can continuously request operations in the area. Please note, there is only a handful of officers dealing with this matter, and we don’t have the capacity to place officers on the site to keep an eye on this. I also need to reiterate that landowners are responsible to protect their land.”
The Northern News found a mound of clothes, a tent and makeshift shelters in a forest clearing, off Mountain View Road, where one of the camps has been set up. Several squatters appeared, but none wanted to speak about why they were staying there. One of them shouted that they had nowhere else to go and did not want to stay in a shelter.
Despite several phone calls, the Northern News received no response from the owner of the occupied property.