Call for crime control

Andrew Heydenrych, Nikiko Splinters and Gary Davids at a house in Banier Street, Southfield, where barbed wire has been pulled away from a wall above the canal.

Southfield residents have called on the City of Cape Town to close their roads because, they say, they are besieged by criminals.

This is not new, however. Residents have been asking for two of three cul-de-sacs and the canal to be closed off since early 2014 (“Call to close Monty Road,” Bulletin, February 6, 2014).

Before this, a resident complained about fires being started by homeless people on open ground between Banier and Monty roads.

This area has since been fenced off, but crime continues with people using the canal and M5 (Prince George Drive) as an escape route.

Nikiko Splinters, who lives in Monty Road, collected signatures for a petition in 2014. It was signed by all residents, except one, of the 23 homes in her road. Crimes listed included her neighbours’ daughter having been hijacked at gunpoint while parked in front of her home.

When the family’s garage was burgled, Mr Splinter chased the perpetrators and they dropped their things, only to return the next week.

They broke in again twice after that while the family were in the house. A visitor’s car was tampered with, their neighbour’s canopy was stolen and his house broken into, and a resident’s grandchild was robbed on the corner of Monty Road.

Ms Splinters says of three cul-de-sacs along the M5, Corlie has been fenced off and she says crime is reduced. Now they are asking for the same in Monty and Banier roads. They are presently closed off from the highway by concrete bollards. Across the M5, is Parkwood whose residents use these roads as a thoroughfare to Southfield station, schools and other services in the area.

The petition was sent to the City’s Road and Transport Department. In response to the Bulletin’s inquiry at the time (February 2014), Brett Herron, the City’s Mayco member for this department confirmed receipt of the petition and said a public participation process would follow. The manager for roads at that time told residents there was a “conflict between freedom of movement and right to security”.

They were also told that a traffic count would be conducted at the two signalised crossings, which excluded Monty Road which did not have a pedestrian crossing. Four weeks after the count, a resident asked for the outcome of this report, which they were told would take two weeks. That was mid-2014 but they have still not received it. In October 2015 they appealed to the mayor’s office, received acknowledgement of receipt, but have heard nothing since.

Undeterred, they persisted and in September 2016 received a response from the transport manager informing them that their request had been considered but not supported and that, for now, they must secure their area through the services of SAPS and the neighbourhood watch.

Ms Splinters recently called on the Bulletin to take up their cause. She said a meeting had been called with a representative of the mayor’s office and the Southfield Neighbourhood Watch.

At a meeting in Banier Street, with Ms Splinters and residents Andrew Heydenrych and Gary Davids, the men told the Bulletin they do not live in the area, but patrol there to prevent a ripple effect of crime into the area to the south, where they live.

Ms Splinters said many in this community were elderly or worked full-time and could not patrol the area. Added to this, residents had been advised to install CCTV cameras, build higher walls and install electric fences – but many could not afford this.

Councillor for Ward 72, which includes Southfield and Parkwood, Kevin Southgate, who inherited the issue from the previous councillor Jan Burger, said after the letter was sent to the mayor, he convened a meeting with City officials and members of Southfield Nieghbourhood Watch to consider some of their concerns.

Among these were that people use the Southfield canal to gain access to residents’ properties; overgrown vegetation and trees were used to hide both stolen goods and people; and the erection of fencing along the M5 to prevent people from crossing the busy road into the area.

A site inspection followed and residents’ suggestions, one of which was to install a gate which could be locked from 11pm to 4am, were discussed. “It was agreed that the canal along Banier Road will be fenced off,” said Mr Southgate.

“Officials will also look at the installation of fencing and a pedestrian gate along Kingsway Road. They will also consider raising the existing fence with barbed wire. It must be noted that the previous gate was stolen on two occasions.

In addition to this, he said, trees would also be trimmed.

Mr Southgate encouraged residents to report crime to the South African Police Service so that they can be more involved with addressing issues of crime. He said there was also agreement with neighbourhood watch members that residents living along the canal must ensure that they have adequate fencing.

* The Bulletin contacted Diep River police on Sunday and again on Monday and Tuesday, to ask for their input, but they did not reply. On Wednesday we called, asking to speak to media liaison Sergeant Amanda Gordon and station commander Lieutenant Colonel Mzwandile Gqabi, but both were on leave.