‘Homeless or criminal?’

2016-10-04 06:00
Concerns have been raised about this problem building on the corner of Oasis Street and Barcombe Road in Hazendal. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Concerns have been raised about this problem building on the corner of Oasis Street and Barcombe Road in Hazendal. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Residents of Hazendal are up in arms after a public meeting at the African Methodist Episcopal Church last Tuesday.

Concerns about an abandoned building on the corner of Oasis Street and Barcombe Road were raised after it emerged that the building, which is in a state of disrepair, has become occupied by allegedly homeless people who have begun to erect structures within the building. It has also been alleged that illegal activity has started taking place inside the building, which has brought a spike in crime in the immediate area.

New ward 49 councillor Rashid Adams confirms that the building has been a point of contention. He reassures community members he will gather their complaints and approach the City of Cape Town’s Problem Building Unit in an effort to escalate its investigation to avoid having other parts of the community taking action on their own.

“The reason I am asking the community to complain is to put some muscle behind this whole thing,” he says.

Adams will take further steps after feedback from the Problem Building Unit.

“I am asking the community to become more vigilant and I am asking the City to apply more power to the whole thing, because this has been reported on numerous occasions already,” he adds.

Adams says tracing the owner of the building would be a priority as the owner would have to tell the community his intentions.

“Our community is in need of so much. The moment you have a decaying item or a decaying building, it sort of attracts the unwanted element. It makes it easy as an escape route for people, because what we find is that we are not sure if those people living there are really homeless or are they using homelessness as an excuse to be there so that they can carry out their criminal activity?

“It is a serious problem and it has to be addressed as soon as possible before it becomes explosive. The last thing I would want to see is that the community, out of anger, does something that is detrimental.

“I have taken the responsibility of taking up the matter with our safety and security directorate so that I can be given proper guidelines as to what steps are going to be put into place. I then can inform the community accordingly. I hope that the process is not going to take too long either.”

Aziza Kannemeyer, chairperson of the Athlone community police forum, echoes Adams’s views and commends him on a well-run introductory meeting.

“Allow people to vent, but also encourage them to come up with proposed solutions. The meetings going forward: someone has got to facilitate, because the councillor cannot respond and facilitate.

“Each meeting must have a specific theme. If the priority is housing, then we must focus on that. People want an outcomes-driven conversation, but we will get there. We must just encourage everyone to support the new councillor. He has got to outline his aims and objectives and give us a pathway of how he thinks he is going to get there,” says Kannemeyer.

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