Vagrants move north

2017-10-11 13:45
Drug addicts now said to be harrassing customers in Raisethorpe CBD.

Drug addicts now said to be harrassing customers in Raisethorpe CBD. (Ian Carbutt)

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Vagrant drug addicts are now said to have invaded the Raisethorpe central business district, driving away customers from businesses there.

In a situation that mirrors the one facing businesses in the city centre, Raisethorpe businesses said they are suffering the effects of car guards “harassing” customers, filth, obstruction of parking bays and general “lawlessness”.

The business fraternity of Chota Motala Road had established a business forum four months ago to try and find solutions.

Municipal officials from the waste management, traffic and safety divisions did not attend a forum meeting on Tuesday.

In previous meetings, the forum has heard allegations of car guards peddling drugs.

In minutes to a meeting held last month, which The Witness has seen, one business owner said: “If the car guards are not tipped, they become violent and threatening.”

Business owners said they could not confront car guards because they believed them to be “dangerous”.

Interim chairperson Shreechand Premchand told Tuesday’s meeting of business people, ward councillors and SAPS members that some tenants in the area were already looking to flee.

He bemoaned the no-show of Msunduzi Municipality officials. “They are really not coming to the party.”

City spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said City officials had not attended because of miscommunication regarding the scheduled time of the meeting. She said the City had not received complaints for these problems from businesses in the area.

Premchand said colleagues in the city centre had said the very same problems facing Raisethorpe now had led to the closure of many major businesses. “From Uppercrust Bakery, KFC and other shops — so many franchises have closed because of these whoonga guys.”

Regarding dirt on the street, it was noted at the meeting that residents were dumping their rubbish on the road.

The forum also heard that people who work in the city centre park their cars outside shops and take taxis into town, limiting the parking space for customers.

The forum had previously asked police to profile car guards to make it easier to finger perpetrators, but SAPS representatives from Mountain Rise station said that process would be “unconstitutional”.

“In order to profile someone, they have to be a person of interest or have committed a crime,” a representative said.

The forum was, therefore, advised to employ car guards to make it easier to identify them if they were involved in criminal activity.

Police spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim, who was present at the meeting, appealed to the business fraternity to open cases when they see criminal behaviour by car guards.

She said the SAPS cannot commit resources to the area without an idea of how frequently incidents of crime take place.

“There are no statistics to substantiate what is being said about car guards. If it’s not reported, we will not know that your customers are being harassed, cars are being broken into and jewellery is being stolen,” she said.

DA councillor for ward 31 Rooksana Ahmed said she had e-mailed invitations to three City officials.

She said: “Officials do sometimes have other commitments. We had waste management here at a previous meeting and it was very good, so they do help us.”

The forum was looking to identify areas of the Raisethorpe CBD for police to patrol, she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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