Subway reclaimed

Above: The completed subway mural which took two days to complete.

Children’s colourful handprints have helped Heathfield grab back its railway station subway from the crime and grime that made the thoroughfare a place of fear for many.

Heathfield’s Hands off Our Subway group helped the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and ward councillor Kevin Southgate last weekend to paint a colourful mural on the subway’s walls.

Both adults and children mucked in over the two days to complete the mural. The subway staircase is now lined with their handprints.

“We love Heathfield” is painted on one subway wall and “Keep it clean” is on the other.

This follows a meeting on Sunday September 25 (“Subway gets new lease on life,” Bulletin, September 29) when Heathfield residents and Mr Southgate met with Prasa’s Enver Dollie and Metrorail’s George Kiewiets, to discuss ways to spruce up the subway.

They also talked about possibly closing the subway after the last train at night.

The mural project is based on the “broken glass theory” that maintaining an area prevents crime.

In recent months, the subway has been plagued by crime, gang graffiti and drug activities (“Residents call for subway closures,” Bulletin, October 13). Sergeant Deirdre Solomon of Kirstenhof police, said they were doing regular patrols and random searches to tackle the drug activities at the station.

It’s hoped the mural will now help to turn that crime trend around.

“Everyone who has come through here off the train has made a contribution to the mural, so it was everyone in Heathfield. That’s the beauty of this project,” said Mr Kiewiets.

Heathfield resident Christopher Lategan, 24, a final year Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT) student, had the idea for the mural. He was helped by friend and tattoo artist Lee Thompson, 27.

“This is quite a nice experience involving the community and watching everyone come together to finish a project that we all believe in,” said Mr Lategan.

“Seeing the kids putting their handprints and doing little things to brighten up the subway was also quite cool.”