Reporting vandals ‘too risky’

2015-07-14 06:00
Vandalism at the closed GF Jooste Hospital includes metal roof sheeting being stolen as well as doors being ripped off at the state facility. 

Chevon Booysen

Vandalism at the closed GF Jooste Hospital includes metal roof sheeting being stolen as well as doors being ripped off at the state facility. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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The City of Cape Town has offered a reward for residents who come forward to report the vandals who are destroying the GF Jooste Hospital building.

The hospital, closed in April last year, is scheduled to open its doors again in 2019. The City will be offering up to R1000 to those who come forward with information leading to an arrest or fine being issued for acts of theft and vandalism.

Rugshanda Pascoe, chairperson of the Manenberg Safety Forum (MSF), believes that the incentive may allow community members who want to help keep the area safe, come forward, but at the same time she expresses the need for the City to engage with the community more effectively to foster a better understanding going forward.

“If all the departments came to the community and spoke about it (the situation at GF Jooste), everyone (in the community) would support the process,” she says.

“If we play a part in the decision-making process of the hospital, we will keep the area safe in order for them (the City) to role out their upgrade plans.

“This wasn’t in their (the community’s) plans, it was something given to them. If I knew my children don’t eat curry and I still made them curry, I would be setting myself up for disaster and an empty pocket,” says Pascoe.

The City reports that its CCTV system has picked up at least 13 incidents in the last four weeks, including suspicious people on site, suspected drug offences and two people caught in possession of stolen property.

Pascoe says she also saw incidents of theft and vandalism while driving past the hospital last week. She witnessed people breaking down the steel fencing surrounding the premises and carrying it away. She feared that, because most of the alleged culprits are affiliated to gangs, crime and violence would only worsen. Coming forward to report these incidents would put these community members’ lives at risk, she believes.

“It’s like putting a plaster on a wound that needs to be cleaned every day. The wound won’t heal that way,” she adds.

Pascoe offers an alternative to the situation, saying that despite the frequency of vandalism and theft, the space can be turned into a safety hub.

“There’s no office space for people to work. NGOs and community-based organisations need to unite and work constructively.”

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