Influx of vagrants in Summer Greens

The Summer Greens community says there has been an influx of vagrants in the area over the past year.

There has been a spike in vagrancy in Summer Greens over the past year, according to residents and the ratepayers’ association.

Vagrants are often seen at all hours, scratching in bins and sometimes trespassing to search for food, shelter, old clothes and anything they can find to sell or use, say residents.

Resident Tamara Lambert said she was woken up by someone walking around in her backyard.

“I have a locked gate on my property, so it’s not like it’s always open where people can just wander in. But some of these homeless guys feel entitled to whatever you have in your property so they will jump people’s walls and look around for whatever they can find.

“I will never judge someone for being homeless because I know that can happen to any of us, but they must respect people’s things.”

There were more vagrants in the neighbourhood, especially around the railway track near Emerald Park, said Gary Jacobs, chairman of the Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association.

“According to our sources there, a group of people come from Kensington side and vandalise the railway, often stealing cables and railway poles from the track. We’ve also noticed that most of these people are vagrants coming into the area from places like Kensington.”

City’ Law Enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said homelessness had risen in many areas across the metro since the start of the national lockdown in March 2020.

“The City is aware of the complaints from neighbourhoods all over the metro. However, there is very little that can be done from an enforcement perspective due to the national disaster regulations,“ he said.

Mr Dyason said vandalism and theft of critical infrastructure had also risen in the past two years.

“This increase is likely driven by the economic impact of Covid-19 but also the fact that a lot of infrastructure has been left vulnerable during the pandemic.”

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Patricia van der Ross said the City’s daily outreach activities offered street people access to social services and reintegration into society.

“These offers of assistance are voluntary, and, unfortunately, many individuals turn down the offers of assistance.

“The City follows a developmental approach to helping people off the streets sustainably. Reintegration, rehabilitation, and the offer of shelter are the key pillars of the City’s response to assisting people off the streets.

“The City’s expenditure on its Care programme to help people off the streets amounted to over R64 million in the last two financial years,” she said.