Street people fenced off

2015-05-05 06:00
Fencing for the road reserve on Kloof Nek will prevent street people from sleeping there.

nicole mccain

Fencing for the road reserve on Kloof Nek will prevent street people from sleeping there. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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A project to curb anti-social behaviour on Kloof Nek is set for completion this month.

Fencing will be installed around the road reserve at the intersection of Burnside Road following numerous complaints of drinking, fighting and littering on the site, says ward councillor Dave Bryant.

“At night this area has become quite dangerous and there have been quite a few complaints,” he says. “The buttress has created a perfect wind break and is frequented by street people.”

The area has been inhabited by street people who are sleeping there permanently, erecting structures, washing and leaving behind litter, Cape Town Community Police Forum chairperson Nicola Jowell says.

“There are reports of drugs being used and sold. Alcohol is being consumed and often this leads to noise disturbances, fighting and other anti-social complaints. People living on the streets are also vulnerable themselves to crime and in recent weeks we have seen a definite trend where they are becoming the victims of crimes such as assault, rape and murder,” she says.

There is also a concern that the presence of people living on the streets increases the crime in the area – such as car break-ins, malicious damage to property and muggings, Jowell says.

“These may be as a result of the people living there or because it enables criminals to come into the area and pretend to be part of the group living there.

“We also know that many of the people living there attempt to earn a living as car guards and this is not a legitimate practice,” she says.

People frequenting the nearby restaurants are having to walk back to their cars at night and are often aggressively approached and may have people demand money for car guarding, Jowell explains.

“Many residents are concerned to be out at night here. There is also a significant impact from the litter and general grime that can result when people are living in a place without any of the required services,” she says.

A number of interventions have taken place to assist street people living at the site, Bryant says.

“A social worker has been there on many occasions. While she has managed to help a few people, many refuse to move to shelters or accept help,” he says.

The constant public nuisance reports have become a drain on law enforcement, Bryant says, prompting the steps to secure the site.

However, street people living on the site say they are not to blame for the public nuisance.

“People come from other areas to fight and steal here,” says resident Kevin Daniels.

“We will have to find somewhere else to stay if they fence this area. It’s a convenient place for us, and we feel safe here because there are no gangsters.”

Daniels says he chooses not to stay at a shelter because there is no certainty that he will get a space there.

“Sometimes they push you around as well,” he adds.

Jowell urges caution in hastily erecting fencing.

“The fencing off of an area should really be viewed as a temporary measure as it may alleviate the problem in one space but will certainly be dispersing it to another. The ­area has become a living space for a number of individuals who are permanently sleeping there and for others who transient through. Sadly fencing becomes one of the quick fixes to alleviate the problem,” she says.

A pedestrian walkway runs around the council property, explains Bryant, which means pedestrians will not be inconvenienced by the fencing.

The road reserve was created after a school bus accident in 2005 in which five were killed and several injured, Bryant says.

“Fencing the property will allow for alternative uses. Businesses could rent it to create a garden, for instance,” he says.

The fencing will be funded from the ward budget, in which R60 000 is allocated to fencing projects, Bryant says

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