A PUBLIC meeting was held on the evening of October 10, at the Mondeor Recreation Centre where about 150 residents convened to discuss urgent matters arising from crime around the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve.
Officials who attended the meeting to answer questions from the residents were Col Janet Madaray from Mondeor SAPS, Johannesburg City, Parks and Zoo representatives (JCPZ), JMPD officials, local councillors and CPF members Mondeor.
Residents who live bordering the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve in Mondeor, Alan Manor, Kibler Park and Mayfield Park are extremely concerned and angry about rising crime and have noticed daily, vagrants who live in the reserve and burn fires during the night.
“Our homes are being targeted during the night and we can’t even go away for a few days because we are fearful our homes will be broken into. This has been happening for years and we are sick of it now,” voiced residents.
One of the main problems is many of the surrounding fences of the nature reserve are broken so anyone can enter day or night.
“The reserve is in a mess, when will there be a budget for the reserve?” asked one resident.
One resident who lives in Constantia Avenue, Alan Manor said, “We are sitting ducks! We’ve had three break-ins since last December. An elderly woman who lived near to us was attacked this year in her home and she moved out. The house was left empty and guys have been coming regularly to strip the house of electricity cables and light fittings. There are no fences up along this side of the reserve.” Madaray asked residents to please report such happenings at Mondeor Police Station.
“We can’t do anything if we don’t have knowledge of the crime.”
Loitering isn’t a crime
It was asked if vagrants and loiterers can be arrested and according to Nico Olivier (JMPD Chief Supt), “Loitering isn’t a crime. The vagrants who are in the reserve can’t be arrested for being there.”
It was suggested signboards be erected at all the entrances to the nature reserve, stating the reserve is open from 6am to 6pm. “If this is done and people are found in the reserve out of those times, they can be taken to Mondeor Police Station where they will be photographed and have their fingerprints taken,” added Madaray.
A resident who lives in Branksome Heights, Kibler Park, said she has been personally collecting monies from residents so they can have some of the fences fixed bordering the reserve.
“We have to fix it ourselves, no-one else comes out to fix the holes in the fence. If we query why the fence can’t be fixed we are told there’s no budget.”
Townhouse complexes along Silver Avenue in Mayfield Park are regularly broken into and pathways have been made behind the complexes in the reserve which are now well trodden.
“This is obviously where people walk and target our complexes,” an upset resident, said.
“We pay our rates and taxes and nothing is being done. Residents who live in areas bordering the reserve don’t sleep anymore.”
Another resident suggested SAPS should go into the reserve during the night to find the loiterers.
“After all, you are the police and are supposed to defend us.”
Madaray answered, “We aren’t afraid to go in to the reserve but as the Colonel I won’t send my police members in during the night. People can easily hide and if they are armed my members won’t stand a chance against them.”
Park rangers at night
Both councillors, Stewart and Dos Santos agreed the community, SAPS and CPF must work together.
“Fences need to be fixed first and fire breaks done. There should be park rangers in the reserve during the night to safeguard the animals. This reserve is a special place and needs to be treated so.”
Another problem voiced by Michelle Pelser is the state of the sewage pipe which runs through the reserve.
“The pipe must be rotten. It leaks badly with raw sewage spilling into the reserve and smells terrible. This needs addressing urgently.”
KlipSA chairman, Andrew Barker added, “There needs to be a plan and a forum to address these hotspots.”
Mofelo Seale (JCP Stakeholder Relations) added, “There are park rangers in the reserve who walk through every day. We will do a walkabout in the reserve with them and see what challenges there are. An advisory committee should be formed and we’ll take it from there.”
Safety in reserve
A question was asked as to the safety of walking in the reserve during the day and it was discussed that it’s not advisable to walk all alone but rather in small groups. The main danger is during the night and the reserve still offers enjoyment for walkers, whether families, hiking groups or school groups, and animal and birding enthusiasts. It was also noted the reserve has interesting historical sites.
The meeting ended with a definite plan of urgently forming a committee to ensure a way forward to address residents’ concerns.
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