Brooklyn’s footbridge of fear

There has been an increase in robberies at the wooden bridge at Zoar Vlei has seen an increase in robberies says the Brooklyn Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch, but according to Milnerton police no cases have been reported.

A footbridge linking Brooklyn and Paarden Eiland has become a hot spot for robberies in recent months, says the Brooklyn and Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch (BYNW).

The wooden bridge, just off Weymess Street, snakes across Zoar Vlei and is used by commuters walking to and from the Zoarvlei MyCiTi station on the other side.

In the past few months, the BYNW has received an increase in reports of robberies, including an attempted robbery of MyCiTi staff, according to Cheryl Castle, the watch’s chairwoman.

“They tried to rob a group of women who were MyCiTi staff members while they were trying to cross the bridge during the evening,” she said.

Ms Castle said poor lighting and dense bushes near the entrance to the bridge aggravated the problem.

Security guards should be hired to patrol the bridge, she said.

Felix Benson has used the bridge for years and said it had become dangerous of late. Criminals lurked around the vlei and targeted people in the morning and at night when it was dark.

“I normally escort my wife to the MyCiTi station because it’s not safe. A few weeks ago, I passed a woman on the bridge who was crying. She said she was robbed of her handbag. Another time I saw a schoolgirl who said she had also just been robbed,” said Mr Benson.

A woman who did not want to be named said she had been robbed while crossing the bridge last week with her two-year-old daughter.

“I was on my way to the MyCiTi station around 5pm. It was very quiet. I saw a man coming towards the bridge from a pathway in the bushes. When I was in the middle of the bridge, he came up behind me and he had a sharp object in his hands. I’m not sure if it was a knife or a screwdriver. He threw out my bag on the bridge and took a R200 from my wallet,” she said.

She did not report the incident to the police because she felt it would be “useless” and also because she was not harmed.

But Ms Castle urged people to report incidents to make SAPS aware of the crime threat in the area.

Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said no cases had been registered about the bridge.

Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development, said City Transport Enforcement Unit officers patrolled MyCiTi routes, and undercover officers were deployed on buses and at stations.

“It is, however, impossible to have an officer on each and every bus and at each and every bus stop at all hours of the day. That said, our team is doing their best and we will remain committed to ensuring the safety of our commuters and personnel as far as possible.

“The unit cannot be held responsible for what happens in corridors to public transport facilities. It is important to add that the South African Police Service is mandated with the responsibility of crime prevention, and as such, the SAPS also has a role to play in this regard,” said Mr Herron.

He said they had no record of MyCiTi staff almost being robbed at Zoarvlei station.