Homeless ‘mess’ left behind after railway fence is broken

2015-04-30 14:46
Vibracrete slabs at the top of Plympton Road in Brampton Road were removed by homeless people so that they can sleep next to the railway line, says a resident. She is now calling on Metrorail to repair the fence.  

astrid februarie

Vibracrete slabs at the top of Plympton Road in Brampton Road were removed by homeless people so that they can sleep next to the railway line, says a resident. She is now calling on Metrorail to repair the fence. PHOTO: astrid februarie

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The piles of rubbish left behind by homeless people living along the railway line concerns a Plumstead resident.

The woman claims that “bergies” living next to the railway line between Plumstead and Wittebome stations on Brampton Road leave their “mess” behind which attracts vermin and cockroaches – bringing them to neighbouring roads too.

The resident says vibracrete slabs have been removed at the top of Plympton Road in Brampton Road, giving access to homeless people. “This situation is a major hazard for all. It is also an escape route for criminals,” she claims. She further says that “nothing was done about ‘Die Gaaitjie’ and look what it has turned into – a squatter camp”.

She is now calling on authorities to fix the fence and clean the open space. In response Richard Walker, regional manager of ­Metrorail, says vagrants living in rail reserves must be relocated to ­alternative sites through a legal process.

“We rely on the City of Cape Town to identify suitable land for the relocation of dwellers before the legal process of eviction and relocation can commence,” he says.

Walker confirms that Metrorail has ­received complaints about the fence and the litter. He says vagrancy remains a thorny and complex social issue. “All over the city, under highway bridges and in trees (near our offices), the homeless seek shelter. We concede that the issue of vagrancy is raised regularly and we confirm that our resources to deal with it remains constrained,” he says.

He explains that Metrorail regularly ­removes vagrants from rail precincts with the help of railway police. The company ­addresses the situation as best it can with the resources at its disposal.

“The purpose of fencing or walling primarily is to demarcate boundaries and that in its original state would not deter wilful ­entry onto the rail reserve by vagrants and/or persons with criminal intent,” he says.

Walker calls on the City of Cape Town to help in the interest of all parties. Effective town planning, law enforcement and economic measures to mitigate the general ­socio-economic circumstances can assist in the reduction of vagrancy. “Until such time as adequate facilities are made available to Cape Town’s vagrants, the problem will merely be shifted from one party to another,” he says.

He further says that the region spends R6m to R9m annually to mend or replace broken fencing.

The cost of palisade fencing is approximately R1000 per meter, while the repair of fencing could be anything from R1000 to R10 000 per opening, depending on the level and extent of the damage and type of fencing.

Walker adds that the City of Cape Town’s Displaced Peoples Unit (DPU), local community policing forums and city improvement districts usually collaborate with Metrorail officials to remove vagrants.

“DPU assists with finding alternative ­accommodation for vagrants as they are particularly vulnerable to wily criminals who lure them into crime with all manner of promises,” he says.

Residents are encouraged to report ­vagrancy to the DPU at 021 596 1999 or 0800 225 669 (all hours)

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