Station plan on track

Dominique Herbig from Durbanville, in the blue top, who brought along a toy tiger to the protest.

A joint operation has cleaned up the area around Goodwood station to rid it of drugs and thugs, and now there are plans for more clean-ups at other nearby crime hot spots.

Working together, Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), the police, ratepayers, Protea Street residents, the neighbourhood watch and City law enforcement tackled the drugs-and-crime spot on Saturday October 8, from 9am to noon.

Activities at the station had been plaguing the neighbourhood for some time.

The operation included cleaning and maintenance of the garden, cutting down and pruning the trees to curb vagrancy and illegal dumping. Now more operations are planned for Vasco station, Goodwood’s library gardens and Parow station. At a neighbourhood watch meeting for sectors 1 and 3 on Monday October 10, Goodwood policeman Warrant Officer Johannes Smit said there had been problems with people drinking and

doing drugs near Goodwood station. Ms Janse van Rensburg said such operations would continue elsewhere in Goodwood.

“It was cleaned up, and it won’t be the last one. We said we want to tackle Vasco station and then the library gardens,” she said.

Ms Janse Van Rensburg said Goodwood station is used by many commuters and residents moving between Goodwood and Ruyterwacht.

“It should be a pleasure to use the station, but, sadly, this has not been for a long time,” she said.

Goodwood police spokesman Warrant Officer Waynne Theunis told Northern News in June that there had been a rise in robberies at train stations in Goodwood in the preceding months.

The City and Prasa had met frequently to discuss mounting complaints about crime and grime at the station before deciding to go-ahead with the clean-up.

Metrorail spokeswoman Riana Scott said they had also removed “troublesome undergrowth” and trimmed overgrown trees to discourage vagrancy.

There were also plans to install extra lighting, but this is depended on funding.

The joint operations would continue until a long-term solution was found, said Ms Scott.

Meanwhile, the meeting on Monday heard of similar problems at Vasco station.

In June, Ms Janse Van Rensburg said the rail reserve at Vasco station was “a mess” (“Problem parking to be sold,” Northern News, June 8).

This followed complaints by businessman David Baird about people squatting in the City-owned parking lot. He described the area as an eyesore.

In his report on crime for September, Warrant Officer Smit referred to contact crime, including robberies at Vasco station, which happened mostly on Thursdays, between noon and 3pm.

“They (criminals) do it on the train, but also the side streets such as Murray and Riebeeck streets, and Voortrekker Road,” he said.

He warned residents to be discreet on the streets.

“Don’t display. Everybody has the right to wear what they want, but don’t display. Like a gold chain around the neck, cellphone in hand. These guys prey on people who are alone,” he said.

Burglaries at homes happened mostly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 6am and 9am, and 3pm and 6pm. Referring to early morning burglaries, he said criminals knew residents’ daily routines.

“That is the time people go to work. They (criminals) are already waiting.”

Criminals knew people often popped in at the shops after work, giving them time to strike in the afternoon.

At the same meeting, residents again brought up the issue of vagrancy across Goodwood and the authorities’ apparent inability to deal with it. One man spoke about about a group of people living in Riebeeck Street, close to the Goodwood municipal pools.

“I tried to report them to law enforcement and the police. They chase them away, but they come back,” he said.

Sector 1 chairwoman Selaelo Arendse urged residents to continue reporting the matter to law enforcement.

“You must report and not get tired. Within that street, you must report every day. Get as many reference numbers. Then it will become a crisis and it must be addressed,” she said.