Vagrants and drug users have overrun council flats in Wynberg, ramping up crime and grime in the vicinity, say the block’s tenants and neighbours.
A ground-floor unit in the two-storey Valparaizo has been vacant since January. The flat’s windows are wide open, and it looks like someone tried to break down a back door next to the flat – shattered glass and pieces of the door are strewn on the ground along with empty wine boxes, an old face cloth and other rubbish.
The tenants blame vagrants for the damage, saying it’s easy for them to get in because there’s only a low fence around the six-unit block.
The empty flat has drawn a lot of criminal activity, say the tenants, most of whom were too scared to be named. But one of them, Elize Goliath, said vagrants were sleeping in the corridors and stairways and the tenants had to pick up used condoms left lying around before their children did.
The tenants say that for years they’ve pleaded in vain with City to put up a higher fence and gates.
They say there have been several break-ins at the block and cars parked outside have their windows smashed. They say they have seen people robbed outside the building and drugs being used on the premises.
One tenant was so fed up she said she had installed a gate herself to stop vagrants getting to the upstairs flats.
Ms Goliath said the tenants had asked the Wynberg police for more patrols in the area, but the police continued to patrol mostly in the day and not at night when the crime happened.
Valparaizo is near Main Road, and Ms Goliath said the tenants suspected prostitutes were using the building. They said they had seen young women being escorted into the building at night, and one tenant said she had seen a couple having sex in a car parked in front of the building.
Nkosinathi Mazele and his family live next to the block. He said thieves had jumped over their wall several times to steal washing from the line or his children’s toys.
“We can no longer leave the back door open if we’re sitting in the lounge because we don’t know what will happen.
“The most concerning thing to us is the safety of our children. You can’t send your child anywhere without supervision. They have to be escorted everywhere,” said Mr Mazele.
Ms Goliath said council workers only seemed to be visible during voting season when they came out to do a few repairs, but nothing had
been done to improve safety at the block.
The tenants reported that police had taken two hours to come out after a woman was robbed at gunpoint in front of the building in December.
“Wynberg is becoming a crime hot spot,” said Mr Mazele. “If we take the law into our own hands we will get arrested.”
Captain Silvino Davids, from Wynberg SAPS, said that they were aware of the crime hot spots in Wynberg and there were weekly operations to patrol them during the day and at night. He encouraged the public to report complaints they had with the station.
“We pride ourselves in arriving on time when we are called. The thing is people don’t report complaints such as this case where they say it took two hours for the officers to arrive. Report with the station so we can handle it and regulate it.”
Contact the Wynberg police station at 021 799 1300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said the empty flat at Valparaizo had been boarded up.
“However, the City was not made aware of, and had not received correspondence about the break-in via the window.”
Two security guards would now be posted – during the day and another at night, he said.
Mr Tyhalibongo said contractors would start renovating the unit on Monday June 3 and should be done by Thursday June 27. After that, a new tenant would be found.