Criminals bask in havens owned by city

2014-10-06 00:00

To the Department

of Public Works

WITNESS Warriors ventures further afield this week to Howick where an abandoned Public Works building has been taken over by criminal elements who are conducting a reign of terror in the area. Residents near the abandoned property at 45 Bell Street have all had burglaries in the past months.

A senior citizen who did not want to be named, for fear of further victimisation, had her house broken into twice. In the last burglary her computer and digital camera were stolen.

She said this was about the seventh time that the fences around her house had been damaged since the Bell Street property was vacated in April 2012. She was aware of surrounding houses that had also been burgled and unwanted items taken from surrounding gardens and, which presumably could not be sold, were found in the gardens of the Bell Street property.

The beleaguered resident writes: “It is obviously highly irresponsible to leave the house at 45 Bell Street without security, open to vandalism, drug abusers and criminal activity. There are no longer any doors left in the place, electric cables have been stolen, and no plumbing remains intact. The grounds are again becoming a rubbish dump. The lower gate is locked and the other standing open. The fence is bent where people have been seen jumping over.

“It would make sense to sell the property, or at least (at great expense to the tax payer) to fix it up and let it out. A moratorium on sale of Public Works Department property could of course be reversed, and meanwhile fences made secure, and the unauthorised intruders and occupants kept out,” she said.

Witness Warriors has forwarded this issue to the KZN Department of Public Works and will follow up to find out how they are going to sort out issues at 45 Bell Street and help the neighbourhood feel safe again.

Negligent landlords

Msunduzi has a similar problem and there have been several complaints about the abandoned building next to the Msunduzi FET College in Pietermaritz Street. According to a host of complainants, this building as well is a haven for criminals and there is evidence of drug abuse — abandoned bottle-neck pipes and other paraphernalia. Surrounding residents also get harassed and they are tired of having their washing stolen from their lines. One resident wrote: “I just don’t understand how this dangerous and ugly building can be permitted in the city centre and right next to a college.”

However, another resident says that this building was not always dangerous and ugly and that it once was recorded as an interesting piece of old architecture in a book on the city’s architectural heritage, published around the 1980s and commonly know as the “Green Book”.

If readers of Witness Warriors know who owns the property, please e-mail us and we will find out about it being cleaned out. The municipality, as part of its city-wide clean-up campaign, will be focusing on abandoned and neglected properties in the near future. However, as has often been said in this column, as citizens we are also responsible in helping keep our city clean.

Waste Management

make good on promises

Nkosiyakhe Dlamini says a big thank you to the Waste Management section, for finally making good on their promise and cleaning up the dumpsite in Lincoln Meade. He said the municipality arrived with big trucks and a large team for the clean out. He showed them another area nearby also being used as an illegal dumpsite and is hoping that the municipality is going to tackle that as well. In the meantime, Dlamini is concerned that all this hard work will be in vain and the illegal dumpers who so far have carried on with impunity will be back again. He urges the municipality to do something with the land or else find some way to monitor this open space and catch the culprits. He also feels that the current fines are too low and reiterates his proposal that the fines be increased to R10 000.

Dlamini is determined to play his part as an active citizen and photograph the culprits together with their vehicle registration to send to the municipality.

So illegal dumpers be warned, you are being watched!

Education needed

Sandy Rowney, who works from an office in the city centre, and her colleagues were pleased to see a cleaner sweeping out the gutters, once a rare sight in Msunduzi. However, joy turned to shock when they saw the enthusiastic cleaner sweep all the debris down a storm water drain, this, despite the fact that she had bin bags draped around her neck. Apparently when questioned about her actions, she could not see what she had done wrong and thought her interrogator was quite mad. Rowney and her colleagues would like the municipality to go a step further and explain to the street cleaning teams why they should never push rubbish down the storm water drains. She said these drains are blocked enough.

When it rains just about every drain in town overflows as they are so clogged with rubbish. Roads then become flooded because of poor drainage and serious accidents can take place.

Water meter replacement delays

If you are waiting for your leaking water meter to be repaired or replaced, Msunduzi Municipality asks you to please be patient, as they have a backlog. Spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said this was due to a lack of material as a result of the recent National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) Strike.

Deena Rajah, Sonya Snyman

says thank you!

Sonya Snyman wrote this letter weeks ago to thank Deena Rajah who carried out maintenance work in Oribi Village. She struggled to get the letter to The Witness as she has no e-mail. The first time it was hand-delivered, it got lost. She re-sent it as she was determined to thank Rajah publicly for a job well done. She says he works for the Msunduzi Municipality and did the maintenance work in Oribi. Snyman moved to Margate after living in Oribi Village for the past 20 years. She thanked Rajah for all the maintenance he did on their home and said he was very professional in the way he performed his duties.

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