Clean-up crews want protecction

Discarded bags and other household appliances outside Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital.

Community clean-up crews in Table View say they won’t work if City law enforcement won’t watch their backs.

Under the banner of Community Cleanup, residents, school kids, churches and CPF members volunteer to keep their neighbourhoods clean.

It has been two weeks now since they have downed tools.

Law enforcement has pulled out of the fortnightly clean-ups, saying its resources are stretched going into the busy festive season.

The community clean-ups were originally part of the Table View Community Police Forum but became a separate entity – albeit one still affiliated to the CPF and the Table View and Parklands neighbourhood watches – when CPF executive committee member Nick Long took over as project coordinator. Mr Long said the clean-up crews had relied on law enforcement to have their backs while they worked.

“Safety for our members is the number-one priority because often when we do the clean-ups, which involve having to move on vagrants that are in the area, we get threats from them.

“These vagrants who threaten us say that they know where we live and tell us to watch our backs. Whenever law enforcement is with us on the clean-ups, these kinds of incidents don’t happen,” he said.

Mr Long said they often had schools and churches joining their clean-ups and it was important to guarantee those volunteers’ safety.

“We are just a group of people who want the best for the community we live in. We just want law enforcement to come to the party and assist us where they can, and we also want the ward councillor to be more involved as this can’t be done by a few people. It is going to take everyone to pull their weight,” he said.

Table View CPF chairman, David Harris, said it was “not unreasonable” to expect law enforcement watch out for the crews and act against by-law breakers.

“Our Ward 107 councillor, Nicky Rheeder, is being very helpful in this regard and is organising a meeting with law enforcement for early in the new year to resolve the issue. The far bigger issue is the irresponsible giving by members of the community of Table View,” he said.

TableViewNeighbourhood Watch chairman, Grant Lemos, said it was a pity the clean-up crews weren’t getting the support they needed.

“The people in this initiative provided a free service for all these years, and it’s sad to see them not operating anymore.

“I definitely understand where they come from, though, because their security comes first.

“In two or three weeks’ time, we will start to see the void left by the clean-up crew when our area is messy because of all the stuff left by vagrants,” he said.

Mr Lemos urged residents to think about what they threw away so as not to attract vagrants, who, he said, discarded the rubbish they didn’t take in the streets.

“This has been a problem in Table View for many years, but I suppose the residents will see it for themselves now that the clean-up crew has stopped operating.”

Ward 113 councillor Joy McCarthy said she respected Community Cleanup’s decision to halt operations. “It is a thankless task,” she said, but added that law enforcement was under a lot of pressure at this time of year.

“Our forces are extremely thin on the ground and especially at this time of year, focus is mainly on the beaches, for alcohol abuse and prevention of drowning.”

Law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said they would continue to help groups like Community Cleanup, but right now their priorities lay elsewhere.

“Law enforcement has limited resources and cannot be deployed everywhere at all times. Where possible, we will attend to community clean-ups and we ask that organisations work through their local sub-council office to coordinate their activities accordingly,” he said.