City promises to remove vagrants after spike in railway bridge muggings

2017-05-15 13:45
People walk over the Roberts Road railway bridge, which is infamous for muggings by alleged whoonga addicts living under the bridge.

People walk over the Roberts Road railway bridge, which is infamous for muggings by alleged whoonga addicts living under the bridge. (Ian Carbutt)

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Msunduzi has promised to chase away vagrants living under the Roberts Road railway bridge.

Residents who live near the bridge, and those who have to cross it on foot, have been complaining of fires under the bridge and a spike in muggings of pedestrians by the vagrants that live under it.

Whoonga addicts, the homeless and street children took up residence under the bridge several months ago.

Clarendon community crime watch group’s Rowan White said when people first started living under the bridge, locals, including domestic workers and gardeners, were being mugged.

He said the community rallied together and fenced the area off so that those living under the bridge could not ambush those walking across the bridge.

“The fence has kept people safe from being mugged but it is impossible to contain the entire area,” said White.

He said Magma Security had intercepted numerous muggers who were carrying weapons but it was difficult to keep an eye on them all the time.

“People are still nervous to cross the bridge.

“The fence does not stop [the vagrants] from walking around and onto the railways and attacking people,” he said.

A domestic worker who lives in Edendale and works in the area said she refused to cross the bridge while walking to and from work.

Miriam Mhlongo said she often spoke with other domestic workers and gardeners who worked in the area who were scared of crossing the bridge.

She said they feared for their lives, especially when it was pay day.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said they had cleared the area two months ago but would have to work with police to evacuate the people underneath the bridge again.

She said the municipality would be willing to assist any of those who are addicted to whoonga with rehabilitation.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese urged residents to report any crimes committed by the people living under the bridge and said he would liaise with the municipality in a joint operation to clear the area.


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