Durban - Residents of Dalton Hostel have denied being involved in an attack on vagrants living in King Dinuzulu (Botha) Park that left several people injured.
A mob brandishing sticks, batons and bricks carried out the attack on Monday.
Police spokesman, Colonel Jay Naicker, said a case of assault and malicious damage to property was being investigated by uMbilo police. No one has been arrested.
Initially police suspected that a mob from Dalton Hostel had mobilised and attacked the vagrants.
But hostel spokesman, Mthembiseni Thusi, said on Tuesday it could have been any of the residents from the buildings surrounding the park.
“There is quite a distance between us and Botha Park. Why was the finger pointed at us? Residents and businesses in the vicinity are complaining about the impact these vagrants are having,” Thusi said. “Even the police came here to investigate and found no weapons or mobs.”
City officials promised a bigger police presence in the area after the incident.
Musa Gumede, deputy city manager for health and social services, whose department has prioritised ridding the city of vagrants addicted to whoonga, said they were at an advanced stage of finding a place to house the vagrants who wanted treatment for their addiction.
He said in many instances, the families of the vagrants had rejected them because of their drug addiction.
There were only two public rehabilitation facilities in the province where addicts could stay as in-patients, Gumede said.
“In the meantime, we are working with (the police) and metro police to increase patrols in the area because of the petty crime that has increased,” he said.
After Monday’s violence, Gumede said the vagrants had moved back to Albert Park.
He said their presence in the city was a concern and his department was doing everything it could to rehabilitate them and integrate them back into their families.
“Unfortunately, many of their families don’t want them back and that is something we would have to look at as well.”
Thusi urged the municipality to move the vagrants to avoid an exodus of businesses and a slum.
Citimed ambulance services treated six people, ranging in age from 20 to 35 years old, who suffered mostly head injuries. They were taken to King Edward VIII Hospital.
The chairman of the uMbilo community policing forum, Ben Madokwe, said they were arranging a meeting with the hostel residents.