Residents fed-up with homeless on doorstep

Residents call on law enforcement to remove makeshift shelters.

Gardens and Vredehoek residents say they feel threatened by some homeless people who squat in the area, abuse alcohol and cause fights.

Gardens resident, Zaakirah Bawa, said they are subjected to swearing and seeing people urinate in public.

In an email sent to Ward 77 councillor Brandon Golding, Ms Bawa said people sit on the corner of Maynard, Harrington and Glynn streets daily, getting drunk and terrorising residents.

“There are so many places to stay, they refuse to leave here. They have mattresses, boxes, pillows, chairs,” she said.

She said there are young people who live in Harrington Street and make money from selling weed. “They steal and terrorise us with music boxes. Also, when we complain to law enforcement they damage our vehicles as we park in front of our homes,” she said.

She said they were disheartened to live there and are ashamed and embarrassed to call the road home. “I have lived here for 30 years, my dad for 60. Can you imagine how much we’ve seen this place go to the dogs? It’s falling apart. I know we aren’t in Devils Peak or high cape but we’re still CBD and we deserve some peace of mind.

“Yes, I understand this is the norm in some areas in Cape Town, however, this wasn’t the norm growing up in Gardens. I deserve to come home from work and not have to call law enforcement because of these issues,” she said.

In Vredehoek, resident Dorne Savage said they face similar issues.

She said tents were erected while there’s no access to toilets or water and the vagrants play music loudly and urinate on the streets.

“It is a health hazard. We have contacted our ward councillor but nothing is being done. We are tired and we pay a huge amount of rates and rent,” she said.

Devil’s Peak Vredehoek Neighbourhood Watch chairman, Oliver Barnett, said they are aware of the problems near the Mill Street bridge and it can get traumatic for residents.

“I’ve seen videos and it’s quite a rowdy group, making noise and fighting. The only thing that we can do is to direct these to Law Enforcement and SAPS,” he said.

Mr Golding said at the moment they are doing all they can to facilitate homeless people to go to safe spaces. “Under normal circumstances, Law Enforcement would go around and ask people to remove these structures, but these are not normal times, we’re under lockdown and they are not able to do that,” he said.

He said the City is in the process of trying to find more spaces to accommodate the homeless. “Currently we work with the Haven night shelter and we have Culemborg shelter in the CBD and we know its not a full shelter, but it’s better than sleeping on the streets,” he said.

“For any criminal activity, we encourage residents to report this to SAPS,” he said.

Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October said they respond when residents report criminal activity in these areas.

“We’ve recently arrested two suspects who were wanted in Gardens. Homelessness is a problem and even shelters are full since the lockdown. We can only respond to criminal activity happening and encourage residents to report these,” he said.