Residents concerned by City’s planned shooting range

2017-12-05 13:30
Ward councillor Ross Strachan inspects the proposed shooting range on Celtis Road.

Ward councillor Ross Strachan inspects the proposed shooting range on Celtis Road. (Ian Carbutt)

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Concerned residents have raised questions about a shooting range under construction by the Msunduzi Municipality along Celtis Road, near Boughton.

The City has confirmed that it is building the shooting range to train its officers instead of using private facilities.

Residents claim that they were never consulted about the new shooting range, which is close to the residential area and Linpark High School. Kate Watts alerted The Witness to the shooting range, with its border close to the Hilton residential area. Watts, who lives in Hilton, said residents in the area were surprised when they saw a construction company board erected close to Celtis Road.

“The municipality says a public participation process was followed, but as a resident myself I can’t say I’ve been asked for input. There is also doubt over an environmental impact assessment having being done,” said Watts.

Prestbury ward councillor Ross Strachan said he was only made aware of the construction of the shooting range by a resident.

“I was not informed ... by the community services and public safety department about this particular project taking place. Nor has this project come through any portfolio committee or full council meeting since my term of office began in August 2016.”

Strachan said he had a meeting with the department and members of his ward committee last week.

“It was established that the municipality had clearly not followed due procedure regarding this project, which the department acknowledged ...”

He said he has urged the department to seek a legal opinion on the matter. This should look at the procedures followed, the environmental impact analysis, Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act regulations and public participation policies.

“Unfortunately, it is the same old problem with the way this municipality conducts its business,” said Strachan.

Msunduzi municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality would be constructing a multi-disciplinary facility which includes an indoor shooting range and outdoor obstacle courses.

She said that in terms of the relevant legislation and by-laws, peace officers had to be trained to a certain standard. This required a training facility.

“The place will not in any way be interfering with the community as such considerations have been made.

“There will be maximum compliance and highly trained officials have been sourced to ensure this,” said Mafumbatha. She said the project is envisaged to be fully completed in four years. Mafumbatha said the City is currently spending money on outsourcing training for about 250 officers as Pietermaritzburg does not have its own facilities. She said the shooting range will be available to all professional accredited bodies to book and could also be used by both internal and external groups as a team building area.

Mafumbatha also invited the community to identify other potential uses for the facility that can best benefit them.

“The facility will only have shotguns and hand guns, there will be no ... grenades, landmines and potential big arms and there will be no chemical related training. The project will definitely be inclusive of our community members’ views through extensive consultations,” reassured Mafumbatha.

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