Residents of Albow Gardens claim that security at their low cost housing complex is inadequate and that this is being taken advantage of by thieves and drug dealers.
Thohera Fagodien thought she could give her two sons a better life when they moved out of a wendy house in Factreton, in Kensington early last year. But she started doubting she had made the right move when her 12-year-old son, Taahir, came home with blood streaming down his face and back on Thursday March 10.
When Tabletalk met up with Ms Fagodien and her son on Friday March 18, Taahir was lying uncomfortably on the couch with a thick bandage strapped around his head and a dressing on his back.
“We just got back from dressing his wounds at the hospital but he is in a lot of pain,” she said.
According to Ms Fagodien, Taahir had taken his father’s phone, and gone to sit on the pavement across the street at the library to use their wi-fi. After about 15 minutes, he decided to walk home.
But, as Taahir stepped into the parking area of the complex, he felt someone grabbing him and saying “give me that phone,” in Afrikaans, she said.
She says his attacker dragged him out of the gate at the complex and assaulted him in Albow Road.
But, according to Ms Fagodien, Taahir fought back and his attacker bit him twice in the face and on the head.
Thaahir reminds his mother that his attacker had warned him, “shout and I will kill you,” and this is why he fought for his life, she said.
“When he came to the door of the unit, he said ‘mommy call the ambulance,’ and I just went crazy and started screaming,” she said.
She noticed that her son had been stabbed and took him to the bathroom while her eldest son called emergency services, and Taahir was taken to hospital.
Ms Fagodien showed Tabletalk photographs of what Taahir looked like when he entered the apartment, a pea-size hole in his head and swollen eyes were all covered in blood.
She says police took nearly two hours to arrive so she could lay charges.
Ms Fagodien says the gates at Albow Gardens are open all day and some nights, allowing anyone access to the complex; and that the lights at the complex don’t work. She also claims that cars and apartments are being burgled almost every day.
Ms Fagodien says she and some other residents at the complex had put money together to buy locks and keys for the gates but the locks were broken off.
“I have been trying to get the councillor to agree to a meeting with some of us here, so that we can discuss the safety and security issues but he is always too busy,” she said.
She believes employing security guards or having remote access could help alleviate the safety and security issues.
“If there are securities here, they could ask for unit numbers or proof that someone lives here and our visitors would have to request permission from us before securities open for them,” she said.
Another resident, who does not want to be named for fear of victimisation, says she and her mother who is a pensioner face eviction at the end of this month, but complained that alleged drug dealers and gangsters living at the complex were free to live there and continue with “their criminal activities.”
The woman, who lives on the top floor of her block, claims that people sleeping on the staircases are buying drugs from dealers in the complex.
Ward 55 councillor Fabian Ah-Sing, however, says Albow Gardens is one of the best maintained low cost housing complexes in his ward.
He says the lights at the complex have been fixed on numerous occasions but that gangsters and residents continue to break them.
Mr Ah-Sing says each staircase had “massive lights” for security purposes – but these have also been broken.
He says Albow Gardens recently had new gates installed but it is impossible to have security guards at the gates because it would cost too much money.
“Residents need to take ownership because a lot has been done at that complex,” he said.
While he agrees that a remote access gate would help reduce criminal incidents, he says he cannot commit to having these installed until the ward’s budget is reviewed at the financial year end.
Justin Kumlehn, the chairman of the Brooklyn, Ysterplaat and Rugby Residents’ Association (BYRRA) said they are aware that Mr Ah-Sing is working on upgrading access control and that new fences had been fitted at the complex.
“Numerous upgrades have taken place and we thank him for that but agree more can be done,” he said.
He encouraged residents to ensure they know what their children are doing at all times. Residents can contact the BYRRA via email on email@example.com
“If it is something that falls outside of our scope, we will point the residents in the right direction,” said Mr Kumlehn.
Milnerton police spokesperson Captain Nopaya Madyibi confirmed that a case of robbery is being investigated and no arrests have been made.
While statistics did not show that there had been an increase in crime in Brooklyn, she said, police would continue with their patrols in the area.