Canal is a haven, but certainly no heaven

2015-05-05 06:00

Crime, grime and public displays of sexual lewdness have sparked a renewed furore over the activities at the Wynberg canal.

The canal, which forms part of the stormwater system, runs from Wynberg Park and has an opening bordered by Piers Road, Devonshire Road, Vriedenhof Road and Oak Avenue.

Earlier this month residents raised the alarm over activities at this opening and called on the City of Cape Town to find a solution (“Clarion call for canal”, People’s Post, 7 April).

Since then several more residents have come forward about their concerns.

One resident, who asked not to be named, says he is sick and tired of the problems at the canal. Earlier this month his property in Sherard Square was burgled. This, he claims, is a direct result of the open access to the canal where thieves can “get away” without being detected on street level.

“They came through the canal, climbed over my wall, stole various items and just went back into the canal. Nobody sees them because they hide in there,” he says.

Residents say the canal is filthy, polluted and a haven for vagrants and criminals. A woman also submitted photographs showing vagrants living in the canal.

There was also a social media report of a vagrant openly masturbating and making lewd comments at a woman.

According to a report by Kristina Davidson, Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association chairperson, a man flashed her elderly neighbour on the same day.

According to Richard Bosman, City director for safety and security, a joint operation was carried out with the displaced peoples unit, with special focus on Sherard Square and Fleming Road.

“This area and the canal have been declared hot spots and regular inspections are conducted and action taken where necessary,” he says.

Bosman explains law enforcement officers visit the area two to three times a week.

In earlier comment Brett Herron, City mayoral committee member for transport, explained there had been requests to erect swing gates across the canal for security but this was not supported due to the potential flood risk to surrounding properties.

Asked more recently whether the City had looked at possible ways to restrict access to the canal, Herron cited his earlier response.

Herron explained the potential flood risk was a major factor. “In addition, a closed system is more difficult to inspect and maintain and would reduce the capacity of the stormwater system.”

Residents also raised concern about the lack of signage near the canal. Asked about this, Herron said: “If anyone is in the canal, they are normally engaged in some form of illegal activity which can be enforced by law enforcement without the need for signage prohibiting such practice”.

Resident Herman Kotze believes not enough is being done to find a solution. Kotze lives along the canal and says while he has fenced the area off, he cannot control access to the canal.

He also provided People’s Post with various letters he has written to the ward councillor on the matter.

V

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