Street lights out for months in Wallacedene

Wallacedene residents are angry with the City, saying it has taken more than three months to fix broken street lights in the crime-plagued neighbourhood.

They have vowed to protest in the streets if the City doesn’t fix the lights by the end of the month.

“Our lives are in danger from criminals. There is a high crime rate in the area. We cannot sleep at night. Criminals are harassing us on the streets and kick our doors at night,” said Sindiswa Tatsi.

The mother of three, from Section 14, said her daughter had been robbed of her cellphone at a shopping centre two months ago — and that had been in broad daylight.

“It is worse at night. We make sure that after seven in the evening we are all indoors. We are living in fear,” said Ms Tatsi.

It was the not the first time the street lights were out, she said. Residents had complained about them to the councillor several times.

“It’s been a while these lights doing this. They worked for a short period and went off again.”

She suspects criminals are knocking out the lights.

Steve February said the problems with the lights had been reported to the councillor many times.

“We told him that he must do something about them or we will protest. We can’t allow criminals to terrorise our community.”

Mr February said a greater police presence was needed in the area.

“Criminals do as they please because there are no police. We want to see police vans on the streets where there crime is, not in the police station.”

Ward councillor Simphiwe Nonkeyiza said he had forwarded the residents’ complaints to a senior electricity official in the City who had promised to do something “but up to this point nothing happened”.

Mr Nonkeyiza said the lights had been going on and off since 2012.

“Both La Boheme and Maroela roads, including other small streets in the area… all the street lights are not working. We even established a neighbourhood watch last June in an effort to fight crime.”

He said he had begged the community not to protest as he was still speaking to City officials and feared “criminal elements” might take advantage of the protest.

Mr Nonkeyiza agreed the police needed to be more visible and he complained that Kraaifontein police had ignored an invitation to attend the launch of the neighbourhood watch.

“We followed all the procedures, and all our members were screened, but, unfortunately, we launched it without our police blessings.”

However, Kraaifontein station commander Brigadier Gerda Van Niekerk said: “I was very much ready to visit and greet this group only to find out that this group did not follow procedures to register with the local CPF.”

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said vandalism was a big problem in Wallacedene. She said the City had been notified last week that street lights were out in Botfontein Road, Maroela Street, Skwatsha Road and La Boheme Road.

“All except La Boheme Road have been fully restored. Streetlights in La Boheme Road will be attended this week. Unfortunately the lights are often dysfunctional due to persistent vandalism or cable theft”, she said adding that the City spent about R16 million a year to fix vandalised street lights.

She urged the public to report vandalism or suspicious activity near electricity infrastructure to the police or the City’s Metals Theft Unit on 0800 222 771.