Vagrants take over post office

Vagrants leave behind various items of trash outside the post office.
Street people are camping out at the Durbanville post office and residents aren’t happy about it. 

The vagrants are scaling a fence and getting past a locked gate to doss down in the hall where the PO boxes are. The lock on the glass door to the hall has been broken.

Sleeping bags, pieces of cardboard, bottles and plastic bags litter the floor and the building smells of urine and faeces. 

Margaret Joan Hultzer is one of several residents who have complained on social media about conditions at the post office.

“I am so disgusted with the situation at the Durbanville post office,” she said. “The enclosed post box area is full of sleeping bodies, faeces, urine puddles, rubbish and a smell to make you vomit. 

The wheelie bin for waste paper is emptied on the floor and used for possessions of the homeless. Going in the mid-Sunday morning is a situation waiting to happen. One day there will be an attack, robbery or rape. My husband had to escort an elderly lady in there yesterday. 
Surely with the community, together with the post office and municipality, a better plan can be made? I do not feel safe there.” 

Ms Hulzer’s post drew many comments with residents saying they feared for their safety when getting their post. Others said they had changed their postal addresses so that they no longer had to rely on the PO boxes.

When Northern News visited the post office, an employee, who didn’t want to be named, said vagrants climbed over the fence at night and had to be chased away in the morning.

While some residents have expressed fears of being attacked or robbed, Durbanville police spokesman, Captain Marchell Rhode, said: “There were no robberies reported nearby the post office. The only crimes reported at the post office, or nearby the post office, are theft out of motor vehicle cases.”

Ward 112 councillor Theresa Uys said she had received many complaints from residents about the post office but there was nothing the City could do.

“The post office is not City property but belongs to the South African Post Office. The complaints were sent to the City in response, I asked the City’s health department to do a site visit. The City then advised that it is private property and residents need to report criminal transgressions to SAPS. The City law enforcement unit does not operate on private property, that is the responsibility of SAPS once a complaint has been lodged.”

Rudy Beukes, 46, a homeless man, has slept at the post office several times since moving to Durbanville looking for work almost five years ago. He said the post office offered a save haven for the homeless, especially during winter.

“It is tough staying here and work is very hard to come by, but I am looking every day and sometimes when I am very late then I sleep at the post office. There are a lot of us that come in and out there but we make it work for us.”

He used to find regular employment doing gardening at nearby houses but recently residents have not been as welcoming.

“Some of the guys here are not just looking for work and they catch on nonsense like stealing from people and breaking into cars. That has made some of the people scared so now they do not want me to come work for them, especially the newer people that I have not worked for. Even the people that I worked for before now look at me twice, but I just stay polite even though it hurts when I do not get work because I really need it.”

Not everybody on the streets in Durbanville is homeless, though, as there are many people, who travel from Fisantekraal looking for work but who end up begging.

One of them is Mr Beukes’s friend, George Bonzaaier.

“I met Rudy a few years ago and we used to sometimes work together but now we don’t get a lot of work so we both have to look opposite sides (of Durbanville) for work,” Mr Bonzaaier said.

“Most days though we get enough taxi fare to go back to Fisantekraal but on the really bad days then we have to sleep on the streets.”

The post office says it is investigating the matter.