Fed up with vagrants

2017-03-20 15:12
LEFT:  A broken window used by criminals to gain access to a house during a burglary. BELOW: Stolen bicycles that were recovered under the Blackburrow Bridge in time before the criminals moved them. ABOVE RIGHT: The boundary fence between Mills Circle and the N3 highway is continuously damaged and used as an easy getaway route for criminals. And one of the vagrants who begs near the Hayfields Centre.

LEFT: A broken window used by criminals to gain access to a house during a burglary. BELOW: Stolen bicycles that were recovered under the Blackburrow Bridge in time before the criminals moved them. ABOVE RIGHT: The boundary fence between Mills Circle and the N3 highway is continuously damaged and used as an easy getaway route for criminals. And one of the vagrants who begs near the Hayfields Centre. (Supplied)

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Have vagrants become spotters for criminals to scout your home?

Following a walkabout through Pietermaritzburg’s city centre with Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo last week, it was revealed that the issue of vagrants is not exclusive to this part of the city.

It is an issue that is plaguing even those in residential areas and with more far- reaching effects.

Hayfields residents contacted Witness Warriors on an issue they want addressed as quickly as possible.

Vagrants have infiltrated their area and the homeowners believe they are the reason behind the spike in housebreakings and petty theft in the area.

One resident in Mills Circle said he witnessed a well-known beggar from the area taking a “selfie” outside his home.

“It raised so many alarm bells for me,” said resident Mike Munroe.

Munroe said he approached the man and before he could say anything, the man started to walk away.

Mills Circle homeowners have endured numerous break-ins in the last few months with many housebreakings meticulously orchestrated. There have been at least six house burglaries on Mills Circle alone in the past six months.

“It is as if they knew the ins and outs of our home and yard,” he said.

The endless problems with vagrants started six months ago in Hayfields with many found sleeping under the New Eng-land Road bridge.

“They even have a cupboard there to keep their stuff,” said another resident.

He said the vagrants at first occupied the old Roadhouse Autobahn premises and used one room as their ablution facility. They broke up the shelving and used the wood to make beds.

A familiar face was caught on CCTV footage during a recent house-breaking. The resident, who asked not to be named, said it was one of the men who beg at the Hayfields Spar traffic lights.

Motorists and residents said they have reached a breaking point with the number of beggars found on the streets leading to the Hayfields Spar and the Hayfields Shopping Centre.

“The police are helpful in the sense that there are regular police patrols but we need the municipality to remove the vagrants from the area and place them in shelters,” said another resident, Alfie Josiah.

He highlighted Blackburrow Bridge as a hotspot for criminals and vagrants who use the place as a storage unit.

On any given day you will find clothes, toys and cosmetics discarded in the river or under the bridge. These are suspected to be stolen items that hold no value to the criminals.

“We just do not want our area to deteriorate to a point where there are vagrants and beggars sleeping on our driveways.

“As it is they are throwing rubbish in our drains and littering the place. Enough is enough and it is time we get the buy-in from the municipality,” Josiah said.

Mills Circle runs adjacent to the N3 highway where the boundary fence is cut and pulled out at certain points.

Residents believe the fence is removed by criminals and vagrants who use the highway as an easy escape route.

The Hayfields residents said they also want to encourage motorists who pass by not to support the beggars with money or food as it would only make them stay in the area.

“If they feel that this area is where they are getting food and money then they will stay and there will more and more beggars pitching up. If we stop supporting them then they will have no choice but to leave,” said another resident.

City to help residents with vagrants issue

Msunduzi Municipality officials say they were not made aware of the vagrant issue in Hayfields but have assured residents that they will assist.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said that now that they have been made aware they will investigate further. “We will start engaging other stakeholders such as the departments of Health and Social Development as we are working with them in the CBD clean-up,” Mafumbatha said.

She said the Pietermaritzburg police, who are also a major help in the city clean-up project, will step in to offer their assistance.

Thank you Thobeka Mafumbatha, Mayor Themba Njilo and the municipality for having such a positive attitude toward assisting the Hayfields residents and motorists who visit the area.

Since the closure of the Ematsheni Beer Hall in Retief Street last year, streets in the Pietermaritzburg CBD have been taken over by vagrants who have nowhere else to live.

Njilo and other councillors visited some of the CBD hot-spots last week to speak to the vagrants in an effort to clean up the streets.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  witness warrior

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