Abandoned houses and unkempt land help crime

2018-03-14 06:01
One of the houses in the northern suburbs that has been abandoned and that is frequented by vagrants.PHOTO: byrone athman

One of the houses in the northern suburbs that has been abandoned and that is frequented by vagrants.PHOTO: byrone athman

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AMID ongoing complaints of break-ins and theft in the northern suburbs, residents of Raisethorpe have attributed this to, among other factors, the number of abandoned houses and unkempt plots of land in the area.

“These houses that are left to stand and these large plots of land where the grass has either been left to grow to tall lengths, or have been occupied by people living in squatter camps, serve as hideouts and escape routes when criminals try to get away,” said Rikesh Ishwarlall from Raisethorpe.

On a tour of some of the areas where abandoned houses have been spotted, the Fever noticed that the same areas that have been having issues with crime are the ones with abandoned houses or vacant fields.

“Many of these houses have been abandoned by their owners who have moved away, and they have probably been forgotten,” said Ishwarlall, while pointing at a house said to belong to a man who has moved to Australia. Ishwarlall said that he has seen many criminals run through these vacant lands to escape from the police and home owners who have been robbed by them.

Fazilla Bhamjee, a pensioner also from Raisethorpe, said that the vacant house and plot next to her house has been a source of terror for her for too long now, stating that intruders have entered her yard three times in the last month by gaining access through the empty land and house.

“The people who own the house next door don’t even care that these vagrants are using their house to gain access to mine by jumping over the walls. I live in fear here every day,” said Bhamjee.

Ward 30 Councillor Renesha Jugmohan said that most of the vacant land is privately owned.

“I have written to the environmental health unit and town planning requesting a legal opinion in terms of the by-laws to deal with these properties,” said Jugmohan.

In terms of the municipal laws, if a property is unkempt and abandoned, the municipality must send an inspector who places a sign on the property, contacts the problem homeowner and establishes a 10-day deadline to correct the problem.

If the homeowner doesn’t address the problem within that time frame, the city hires a contractor to cut the grass within seven days. The municipality then places a lien on the structure to cover the cost.

Spokesperson for the Mountain Rise Police Station captain Gay Ebrahim said that a committee has since been established since the last matter regarding Privet Road, where electricity was stolen, and that progress is ongoing.

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