Row over dumping and vagrants

2016-08-16 06:00
Vagrants and dumping is a major problem in Hillcrest. Photo: supplied

Vagrants and dumping is a major problem in Hillcrest. Photo: supplied

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THE Hillcrest Security Alliance, which connects Hillcrest Park Neighbourhood Watch (HPNW) and Gillitts Park community associations (West riding, Highburg and Gillitts 2), have joined forces to combat, assist and drive out criminal elements that plague these areas.

The teams conduct daily and weekly patrols in the areas and are aligned with the local response companies, police and municipalities and are involved in ensuring a better, safer and cleaner environment for all.

According to Rex Pennefather these associations have noticed a recent increase in dumping and vagrants in the area.

He said a coalition between Gillitts Park Neighbourhood Watch, HPNW and Augusta residents were formed three years ago when there was an increase in crime in the area.

“Directly opposite Augusta entrance and running to the Springside Nature Reserve [Dover house and Valeria Roads] there appeared to the be a major escape and resting area for criminals. Unfortunately, the area has elements of being privately owned, so it has fallen largely into ‘someone else's problem’ category.”

Teams were called in to check the area and validate the claim of vagrants - criminal or not- living in the grassland and bushes and along the railway.

“From our research we noted a continuous residency in this area with numbers being up to 30 at times. Our teams go out on a daily and weekly basis clearing these ‘nests’ and trying to vacate the illegal residents,” he said.

“Unfortunately, with the conservancy running largely along a railway line, backed with commercial properties, it is too easy for these vagrants to access old cardboard, boxes, plastic, packets, sheets, etc, which they use to assemble makeshift houses.”

He said this rubbish and litter quickly builds up as vagrants simply discard and litter where they live leaving a horrible scour in the natural area.

The community needs to stop giving handouts to these beggars and rather direct to them the correct area and centres where they can find accommodations and support he said.

“We have found wallets, ID documents, stolen goods, plastic guns and a whole lot of stolen goods in these ‘nests’ in the bushes.

“While we are acutely aware of the plight of the homeless and desperate, in this instance it appears desperation has caused them to take the next step to crime with now have access in an out of an area and a safe bush house to hide where response companies cannot get to,” he said.

Pennefather urged businesses along the railway to refrain from dumping. “By allowing dumping we clearly show these vagrants and commercial business that this is an area we do not care about, and effectively, incentive them to settle in or dump freely.

“By keeping the area clean we can immediately identify and highlight litter hot spots which indicate a vagrant or criminal resting area. The dumping we experience is not only illegal [used oil, etc], but in direct contravention of our local by-laws.”

He said the organisation cleans the area every week and people can get involved by contributing to their community watch programme and stop dumping. Last weekend they removed 125 black bags of litter from these areas.

For more information, or how to get involved, contact Shaun Lyle on 082 553 7399 or SMS lyle@mweb.co.za

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