Trees near president’s home trimmed after several months of pleading

2013-09-16 00:00

IT has taken several months of pleading for Durban city to trim the branches of trees near President Jacob Zuma’s Durban home, which local residents claimed were being used by muggers to pounce on unsuspecting joggers.

Residents living on Sir Arthur Road had complained that thugs were hiding behind the trees and targeting people passing by.

Two weeks ago, The Witness sent queries to the eThekwini municipality. On Thursday, a team from the parks and recreation department was dispatched to prune the trees.

Residents said they had reported the mugging incidents and that criminals were lurking near Zuma’s house to police, but because the trees were not trimmed, the thugs always returned.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge would not confirm how many complaints had been lodged by residents on the road.

Eunice van der Merwe said she had taken to watching the area after noticing people hiding behind the trees.

“At one stage, the branches were obscuring the street lights — making it worse for people who used the road during the evening,” she said.

Morningside Community Policing Forum chairman Mike Holland said he had received several complaints about the trees near the president’s home. “Residents were concerned because muggers were hiding behind the trees,” said Holland.

Holland said the trees were pruned last week after several pleas to the council.

Jogger Anthony Wilson said he had witnessed a woman being robbed after she was pounced on by a mugger.

“The tree near the president’s dwelling is not the only one used by robbers to hide behind,” he said.

Local ward councillor Martin Meyer said: “The uncut and unmaintained trees are a huge concern in the area. The department of parks and recreation regularly informs councillors at quarterly meetings that they are three years behind schedule in maintaining the trees,” he said.

Meyer said controlling undergrowth and bushes is an important part of crime prevention, as the overgrowth gives criminals a place to hide themselves and the articles they have stolen.

Municipal head of parks, recreation and culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo said there is a policy that needs to be followed when cutting trees in the city.

“We need to have more trees. Trees cannot just be removed because people are scared of crime. We need to preserve indigenous trees,” he said.

Ngcobo also said that there was a protocol that needed to be followed when cutting the trees located near the president’s Durban home.

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