Council’s call to stop vandalism

2019-01-17 06:02

The fire that ripped through Nomzamo Smart Park on Monday 7 January ensured that children who were on holiday could not use it anymore.

The usually busy park had its large area cordoned off, as the damage to wooden structures, trees and rubber matting were badly affected.

This and many other incidents of vandalism to infrastructure have resulted in the City of Cape Town to renew its call on communities to help fight the scourge of vandalism and theft at community facilities.

The City says in just a few weeks into the new year, several facilities have already been targeted by criminal elements in the community, disrupting service delivery, but also requiring repairs with funds that could have been spent elsewhere.

“Looking after our facilities requires the support and collaboration of all community members,” said Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee member for Community Services and Health. “I want to encourage communities to take ownership of these facilities and assist us in our fight to protect these assets.”

Mayor Dan Plato said the City cannot allow the vandalism and destruction of its property, and ultimately community assets, to continue.

“It is a waste of resources, as money that could be used for housing or sanitation has to be used to repair assets,” he said.

Facilities within the Community Services and Health Directorate are said to be particularly vulnerable.

These include libraries, clinics, sports complexes, community centres and parks.

“City facilities are the continuous targets of wanton criminal acts and vandalism, and the City spends millions annually to repair and replace these assets,” said Badroodien.

“Facilities are not only incapacitated for use, but the loss and damage deprive the communities they serve.”

He said incidents recorded range from petty theft to the theft of “geysers, gates and fixtures and the damage of tiles, soap dishes, parts of toilets and carports.

“The reality is that we have a social problem that manifests itself as crime and vandalism on easy targets such as cemeteries and recreation facilities.”

Some of the incidents reported in recent months include:

. A power outage at the Bishop Lavis library on 4 January as a result of vandalism of a nearby electricity substation, which meant that staff were unable to use their telephones or computers and patrons couldn’t use the library. Burglars also tried to access the library during the power outage, but were interrupted by security guards who alerted law enforcement.

. In the December holidays, the Delft Library suffered a number of broken windows, while a section of the fence was removed and a door at the reference section was vandalised.

. Chillers on the roof of the Bellville Library were vandalised and the copper pipes stolen twice, with the second incident occurring in November last year.

. Last year, the Company’s Garden had a heritage sundial stolen in addition to the copper plate at the entrance; the lion’s heads on the Thorne fountain were vandalised, as was the water pipe at a statue.

Badroodien says so far in this financial year three departments have recorded nearly R2 million spent on repairs and the replacement of damaged or stolen equipment, including more than a thousand library items.

In August last year, the directorate announced a major financial injection to help keep community facilities safe from criminals.

Some of these initiatives include:

. R10,1 million for security boosting measures such as burglar bars, alarm systems, high mast lighting, and so on;

. R20 million for the deployment of Facility Protection Officers;

. R9,8 million for the deployment of 312 safety wardens.

“These interventions are starting to make a difference in the areas where they are deployed, but we still have a long way to go and we cannot do it alone,” said Badroodien. “I urge all residents to contact the police or Law Enforcement if you see anything suspicious. Help us take care of what belongs to us all.”

To report vandalism, call 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.

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