Campaign to address growing social ills in Berea

2013-11-25 00:00

RESIDENTS in Berea are fed up with the flouting of city building by-laws and the growing social ills in the Durban suburb, Save Our Berea Campaign working committee member Cheryl Johnson said yesterday.

The campaign, barely a month old and which has attracted hundreds of followers to its social media site, is holding a meeting tomorrow evening to help galvanise residents into a way forward.

Berea was once a leafy upmarket suburb, but residents have begun to feel besieged by loitering vagrants, street children, prostitutes, drug dealing and defecating in the roads. Many buildings, some declared heritage sites, have been abandoned, neglected or renovated without proper plans or authorisation. Pavements are in poor state, as are traffic conditions.

“I began speaking to people about it and found out that everyone I knew living on the Berea had a story to tell, whether it was about trees being cut down, a building being erected right on the boundary of a property, their home being broken into or a neighbour running an illegal business out of his home,” said Johnson.

“We are not saying keep our suburb clean and crisp for whitey colonialists, we know that urbanisation is a global trend. What we want is for development to be properly managed and for the by-laws to be adhered to.”

DA eThekwini councillor Dean Macpherson said in January 2014, at the first city executive council meeting, the party would re-table a bill it had drawn up to deal with errant property owners. It had been accepted by all parties in the municipality two years ago, but was never implemented. The bill will give property owners who deviate from building and other by-laws 60 days to fix the situation, or the municipality will be entitled to attach the property and sell it off.

Acting head of land use management, Musa Mbhele, and land use manager for the Berea, Llekha Allopi, have been invited to the meeting to explain why the by-laws are not being enforced on the Berea.

Experts participating in the meeting include Richard Dobson, a trained architect, who has been involved in urban regeneration work in Durban’s inner-city since 1996 and co-authored the book Working in Warwick: Including Street Traders in Urban Plans. He is an expert on urban regeneration, urban management and the informal economy.

Crime expert Brad Nathanson, a private investigator, will also address those present. Other experts include a heritage architect, an eco warrior and a lawyer specialising in town planning issues.

The meeting starts at 6.30 pm for 7 pm at the St Thomas Church Hall, in Musgrave Road, Musgrave.

Comment could not be obtained from the municipality yesterday.

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