Vagrants in hollows

2019-02-05 06:20
Tree hollows being used by the homeless.

Tree hollows being used by the homeless.

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The Princess Vlei Civic Association is concerned about the homeless people that are now sleeping in the hollows of trees because the trees have not been trimmed.

They have settled in the trees behind the Heathfield Parks Depot.

Princess Vlei Civic Association chairperson Jan Burger said it is unbelievable how the trees have grown since they are not being maintained. “We are aware that councillor’s budget stipulated parks upgrading but it would appear because of neglect on the western side of Princess Vlei (parts of Southfield and Windsor Park), trees have not been cut or trimmed thus proving a haven for criminals. They are making tree hollows homes and this would have been avoided if the trees were maintained. Trees are overgrown,” he said.

“It is disturbing how service is coming on one side but there is nothing forth coming for the other side. We are sitting with trees that are not trimmed and they have become a safe haven for the homeless. We have a neighbourhood watch that patrols and sees all these things. We chase them away and report and nothing gets done. If the City maintained these tree we wouldn’t be sitting with this problem,” said Burger.

Ward councillor Kevin Southgate said he is aware of the situation. “We have seen an increase in vagrancy within the area and every incident that we have become aware of has been addressed. When these matters are reported, Law Enforcement together with Social Development visits the homeless/vagrants. They are offered assistance in the form of going to a shelter or being reintegrated with their families. Unfortunately, they refuse assistance as they chose to stay on the ‘street’.

“In actual fact some of the people are from the Punts/Heathfield area. These are people who have gone astray and are in need of help but unfortunately refuse assistance when it is offered to them. They simply just move from one space to another and in the process compromise the safety of residents and themselves, not to mention the rubbish that they accumulate which the City has to clean up.Last week we had a huge fire at 02:00 caused by vagrants sleeping in a makeshift hut along the canal in Heathfield,” he said.

Southgate added that the Recreation and Parks Department attended to the matter by cutting back the trees and creating a fire break along the fence of the private residences.

“They (trees) are managed as and when the need arises. The hollow tree that has been reported as housing vagrants has been cut down and the branches are currently being removed. All the trees around the depot are currently being trimmed,” he said.

V Residents are encouraged to log a service request where trees are in need of trimming. This is done by sending an SMS to 31373

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