Groenkloof residents have had enough of crime and are planning to take safety and security matters into their own hands.
With more than 28 criminal cases reported in the Sunnyside police precinct daily, residents are planning to set up a R4.8 million gated security community called Groenkloof Village.
By December 1, 2015, if the City of Tshwane gives the nod, motorists and pedestrians will only be granted access through boom gates at four entrances to the area.
The plan is to close the suburb from Florence Ribeiro Street (previously Queen Wilhelmina) to the border of the Groenkloof Nature Reserve near Fountains Circle and from Herbert Baker Street to George Storrar Drive near Little Company of Mary hospital and the SA Bureau of Standards offices. The total area is estimated to be 1.6ha.
The plan is the brainchild of the Groenkloof Safety Initiative (GSI) and is supported by the Groenkloof Residents’ Association.
Mareli Wassenaar of the GSI and Jan Malan, an independent consultant who has been involved in developing gated communities in the province since 1998, spoke to Pretoria News. Malan said residents met to discuss the plan for the first time on February 6. To date more than 25 percent of residents have shown their support for the roads closure. Of the 521 houses in the designated area, more than two thirds (365 houses) have to support the closure before the application will be considered by the City of Tshwane.
Along with the R154 000 application fee to the metro, a traffic impact study will be completed in June.
Once all 18 of the metro’s departments have approved the application, the SAPS, metro police and the area’s ward councillor have to give the okay. The application is then advertised and the public can lodge objections.
“They (the metro) want to make 100 percent sure that the plan can, and will, work,” Malan said.
Only once all relevant parties have given the go-ahead can the area be closed, and a re-application has to be submitted every two years.
Depending on how long the approval process took, construction of the boom gates, fences and security offices at the entrances could commence in September next year.
Outsiders would still have access to the churches, parks, schools and embassies but would have to enter through the access-controlled gates.
Some businesses on George Storrar Drive, near the Groenkloof Spar, have been excluded from the closure because they rely on customers walking by for their success. The Japanese Embassy has also said it wants to be included in the closure.
Malan said research showed a 60 to 70 percent decrease in crime is possible if the area is patrolled by guards in cars or on bicycles. “We’re telling criminals that if they come in, they have to be sure they can get out undetected,” Malan said.
When motorists enter the area, a boom gate camera will take a picture of the driver, car and its licence plate. Details of the licence plate will be sent to a central database and within seconds security at the gate will know if the car has been involved in criminal activity.
Pedestrians will also be photographed when they enter.
Once the plan is approved, there will only be four entrances to the area as opposed to the current 10.
Two entrances will be on Florence Ribeiro Street near Bronkhorst Street and Wenning Street. One entrance will be near the Japanese embassy on Baines Street and another on Herbert Baker Street near Fountains Circle. Only the Baines and Bronkhorst street entrances will be open at night.
According to police statistics, more than 9 600 crimes were reported to the Sunnyside police precinct last year. Residents in Groenkloof fall within that precinct.
Most of the crimes involved theft.
Statistics show there has been an increase in crime in the area since 2012.