Community must unite and report criminal activity, says councillor

The fencing at Emerald Way Park has been stripped with huge chunks of it missing.

The newly appointed Ward 4 councillor said the Summer Greens community needs to pull together to make sure their neighbourhood is free from vandalism, theft, illegal shebeens and illegal businesses.

Anthony Benadie said although it is not the residents’ job to police the area, the community needs to be involved because Law Enforcement and SAPS can only get there after the fact.

The Summer Greens community has been dealing with a lot of vandalism in the past few months. At the parks there is graffiti, broken play equipment and torn down clear view fencing. In some instances, whole sections of the fencing have been removed.

Residents of Summer Greens say they are afraid that their children will soon not have a place to play and say the parks will soon end up like Democracy Park in Phoenix. In November last year, Tabletalk reported that Democracy Park was destroyed due to vandalism and theft (“Park destroyed by vandalism”, Tabletalk, November 11, 2020).

At the time, Ward 4 councllior Wandisile Ngeyi said the fence and the equipment were stolen and the land was then left ripe for people to start invading it.

In January this year, Law Enforcement and SAPS removed pegged plots at Democracy Park where some residents had already decided to invade the land (“Land grab stopped at Phoenix park”, Tabletalk, January 20).

The Democracy Park last year before residents tried to grab the land.

The Democracy Park is now a shell of its former self. There is rubbish all over what was once the playing area and people would be forgiven for finding it hard to believe there was ever a park there.

Mr Benadie said he was on a successful clean-up in Summer Greens a few weeks ago (“Summer Greens clean-up”, Tabletalk, December 8). But he urged residents to maintain that same spirit when dealing with vandalism in the area by reporting what they see.

“This area has so much potential and I’ve seen how some of the residents really care about it. We need to have that same energy when reporting these bad elements. The people can help keep their neighbourhood clean and free from criminal activity,” he said.

The park near Colleen Way in Summer Greens has also been vandalised and residents think there are people trying to rip the fence off to sell it.

Another big issue for residents are the allegations of illegal shebeens mushrooming in the area. Residents say that over the past year, there have been a number of shebeens popping up in the area and fear that there will be more in the next few years.

Summer Greens Neighbourhood Watch (SGNW) chairman, Craig Alexander, said vandalism and theft was a major concern for them because these crimes could escalate to other forms of criminal activity.

“We are working closely with SAPS in this regard but unfortunately we can’t have our eyes and ears everywhere. We also depend on the community to report when they see criminal activity and not be afraid to provide us with evidence. Like the shebeen thing, there is only so much we can do. We often drive to these houses that are supposedly selling alcohol illegally and try to observe or deter people from coming in and out of them. But we can’t really do anything,” he said.

Mr Alexander said often they find that residents will complain of a shebeen only to find out that the particular house is a boarding house with many tenants living there and no sign of a shebeen.

Mr Benadie said it is not just shebeens but there was a general issue of illegal businesses in the area like spaza shops and mechanic workshops.

Many residents like Amanda Schultz say the general upkeep of the area has gone down in recent years.

“We constantly have burst sewage drains in our area. Our roads have potholes. We have unsheltered MyCiTi stops along Summer Greens Drive. There is also the broken footbridge at the Emerald Way Park. That place is dangerous – that bridge could cave in any moment and someone could fall into that stagnant dirty water at the canal. There are many other problems which have been going on for years. We want the City and the councillor to have our backs on this and try to get our neighbourhood to the standard we know it can be,” she said.

The footbridge near Emerald Way Park has been deteriorating for many years and residents see it as a safety and health hazard.

Other residents like Nosipho Zinja said they were positive about the new councillor’s promises and said that she has already seen a change in the community.

“I have been noticing a lot of work being done especially around these problem areas like Emerald Way and the main road. The potholes look like they are being fixed regularly and the long reeds in the canal behind Soldier Way were being trimmed a few days ago,” she said.

The SGNW and Summer Greens Residents’ Association held another community clean up on Thursday December 16. Mr Alexander said one of their main focuses was to fix the broken footbridge near the park.

Mr Benadie said that he would be meeting with Summer Greens stakeholders and residents in mid January to discuss other issues and concerns faced by the community.

Milnerton SAPS did not respond to emailed questions regarding the vandalism and illegal shebeens claims by the time this issue went to print.