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Pretoria - Since the historic Munitoria building was imploded in July, scores of scrap metal scavengers have been combing the site for metal they can salvage and sell.
The site has been closed off with zinc sheeting twice, but it slowly disappears as scavengers take it or break it down to gain access to the site and scan it for scrap metal and material they can take.
The scavengers are often seen walking down Madiba (formerly Vermeulen) Street, Paul Kruger Street, Johannes Ramokhoase (Proes) Street and Sisulu (Prinsloo) Street with large pieces of scrap metal and girders in hand or in large municipal rubbish bins.
“It’s obvious these bins are stolen and as we know they are expensive, in the range of R600 each,” council spokesman Blessing Manale said.
There are legitimate and illegal salvagers who take material from the site to scrap metal dealers in other parts of the city.
The trucks legally removing rubble take the steel to a contractor of Group 5 and Draco Demolitions, but it is unclear where the illegal scavengers are taking the metal they get from the site.
Manale said the Tshwane metro police were responsible for security on the outer perimeter, while on site it was the responsibility of the private contractor, Tsela Tshweu Investments, that would construct the multibillion-rand Tshwane House. Security guards claimed they had been pelted with stones and had even received death threats.
The material on site is of little value, but soon more expensive building materials will be stored there to build Tshwane House.
Site security has made “arrests”, but there has not yet been a successful conviction.
Manale said it was difficult to prove the rubbish bins were stolen and the metro police could only act if the bin was clearly marked with a residential address.
“Most of these bins are stolen from residential areas when left outside after waste collection. We (the metro) have received numerous complaints of stolen bins and grocery trolleys which are used to move scrap,” Manale said.
According to Manale, the site will be completely cleared of rubble within six weeks.
The laying of the foundations for the new Tshwane House will start by early February and construction is likely to start by April.
In September the metro urged scrap metal dealers not to accept steel, sheeting or building material they suspect of being stolen.