Vagrants are occupying fields in Loevenstein with some among them starting fires, taking drugs and robbing people, say residents who want the City to act.
Over the past year, residents have complained to the city of Cape Town and via social media of the growing amount about a growing number of tents and flimsy shelters on fields just off the N1 behind complexes, such as Loeven Terrace, and towards Tyger Valley shopping centre.
Marc Calasse, a Loevenstein resident and member of the 911 Loevenstein Crime Watch group, said: “The situation is really getting bad. A few months ago, we had a case where a guy jumped over the wall and tried to rob an elderly lady in her home.
“Fortunately for the lady, a neighbour heard her screams, and they notified the watch group. When we arrived at the scene, the guy was just about to hit her with a spade, and although we stopped him from doing that, he still managed to get away with her purse.
“Now the guys are also starting fires on the fields nearby for whatever reason, and that is really dangerous because it is quite dry there, and these guys do not contain the fires.”
As a security consultant for a private company, Mr Calasse is often called out cross the city to assess property damage done to a property after a break-in.
“From time to time, you see the vagrants move their camp-sites around so you never know exactly where they going to be all the time. When we complain to the City of Cape Town, they come out and cut down the trees in those areas while the police cannot do anything about it because we are told they are doing nothing illegal and it is a matter of law enforcement. So the only thing that is being done is that we are losing more and more beautiful trees.”
Bellville police spokesman Captain Jonathan Blankenberg said they could not move people from the property and they could not arrest the vagrants unless they committed a crime.
“The police have in the past though arrested suspected thieves and trespassers in the area.”
Mr Calasse said he realised some of the people on the fields were not there out of choice but it was the criminal element among them he was worried about.
“Some of the guys out there make their fires and you can see them actually look after it and they clean up after they are done. Same with the guys that are genuinely looking for work and money to feed themselves but there are some that are just out there for their next fix of whatever drug they are on and those are the ones that cause all the problems.
Also because they are close by, these guys speak to the house robbers about what houses are good targets and when they are most likely to be empty.
“Criminals also blend in with the vagrants because all they have to do is to walk with a bag on their back and claim to be looking for work.”
City law enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said they would investigate and he urged residents to report incidents to the City and the police.
“Law enforcement will look into this matter and liaise with the City’s Displaced Persons Unit to find a sustainable solution.”
Ward 70 councillor Andrea Crous did not respond to requests for comment by the time this edition went to print.