Residents call for subway closures

Contractors paint the subway in Heathfield in preparation for the painting of a mural.

A Plumstead father was threatened at gunpoint after he disturbed burglars in his home.

Police say the man heard a scuffle in the kitchen on the morning of Thursday October 6. He went to investigate and found two young men in the doorway, fleeing with his family’s belongings and keys.

“He followed the two suspects and when he got into the driveway one of the suspects turned and pointed a firearm at him and he retreated back into the house,” Warrant Officer Keith Chandler of Diep River police said. “The suspects got away with one of the family’s cars, a blue Golf 4, the other car’s tyres were slashed.”

The men had taken a briefcase, laptops, iPads and other personal items.

Police have asked anyone with information to contact Detective Sergeant Arnold Bosch at 021 710 7360.

A neighbour posted about the incident on the Plumstead Neighbourhood Watch Facebook group, saying it happened in Tiverton Road, just before 6.30am, and “everyone is okay, just very shaken up”.

Residents asked if closing the nearby subway at night would help to curb crime.

One said: “So sad to hear, so close to home. Subway needs to be closed at night to avoid any further crimes.”

Another asked: “Does anyone know who we can petition to get the subway closed at night?”

But not all agreed that closing the subway would stop crime.

“What we need are more patrollers on the road at all times of the day or night so that when these perpetrators are seen, they can be reported and pursued by the authorities before they commit a crime,” one said.

“Closing the subway would do more harm – with illegal railway crossings – than good. What we need is to get the criminals out of Plumstead, not close a main point of access for pedestrians.”

Another said: “I am not proposing closure of the subway, but suggesting that it be locked at night. I have lived in Plumstead for 23 years and this subway has caused many headaches, including for patrollers… which I am, as it is an easy escape point for potential criminals.”

Another claimed that all the subways in the area were crime problems and that many were worse than the one near Tiverton Road.

“They won’t do it,” she said. “All of the subways in the area are a problem – the worst of which are actually the Steurhof and Lester Road subways. We need to find another way around the problem.”

Warrant Officer Chandler, Plumstead said: “Overall there has been an increase in burglaries in Plumstead in the early morning but not necessarily close to the railway line.”

Ward councillor Monty Oliver, said that over the weekend he had received one request for the closing of subways in Plumstead at night and the request would go through a public participation process.

“We have to find out how widespread the problem is,” he said.

He added that Wynberg residents had asked that the Wittebome and Wynberg subways also be closed at night and this was being discussed with the Wynberg Central Improvement District.

In Heathfield, the Hands off Our Subway group have collaborated with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and the ward councillor Kevin Southgate to make the subway safer (“Subway gets new lease on life”, Bulletin, September 29).

The group’s Facebook page said: “After several incidents of drug dealing, drug activities, muggings and gang graffiti, some members of the community have approached Metrorail and Prasa to clean up the Heathfield subway. We need the help of our community to get involved to make this happen.”

The group started their campaign by cleaning and painting the subway.

Project co-ordinator Deon Collison said the subway would be painted with a mural later this month. The organisation has also requested that gates and fences be put up.

“The closing of the subway at night, after the last train, is a priority right now,” he said.

Mr Southgate confirmed this: “After having presented Prasa with our concerns regarding the safety and security around the subway, they have agreed to close the subway at night after the last train. Dates for the installation and procurement for the gates and fencing still has to be confirmed. They will also be fencing off the two other sections on the other side of the station as well.”

Prasa’s Enver Dollie said: “We are still busy with the process of procurement, as noted to the councillor and others, this is not a simple process as we have to follow the required protocols.”

Mr Dollie said that once the procurement process was complete Prasa would advise on when the works would start on site.