District Six (D6), once notorious for its gangs before the area was demolished by the apartheid state, is seeing a return of criminals, this time hiding among vagrants. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - District Six (D6), once notorious for its gangs before the area was demolished by the apartheid state, is seeing a return of criminals, this time hiding among vagrants.

Neighbourhood watch chairperson for District Six, Nellis Beyers, said residents are at their wits end as nobody is doing anything about the gang invasion.

“Criminals hide among the vagrants in the area. The city can only act against people who invade property belonging to the City. CPUT owns the open space with the biggest concentration of squatters. The City’s resources are severely restricted and there are only four Metro Police officers for the whole area,” Nellis said.

He said Metro Police do not arrest the criminals and only issue them with fines.

“The Metro Police are in fact toothless and the police patrols use District Six to hide and take breaks whilst on duty because there is no one around to report them slacking off. You often see patrol vans gathered together, with police chatting, not doing anything about suspicious characters, defecation or squatters in the immediate surroundings,” he said.

It’s not the first time residents have spoken out about ongoing criminality in the area. In June, a group of residents held demonstrations in Pontact Street, opposite CPUT, to call for action and demanded greater resources to be allocated from the City of Cape Town’s budget for safety and security and social amenities in District Six.

“Crime has become a social problem in the area and it has escalated and has made a huge come-back. The City should’ve done more, they should’ve provided more resources to those residents,” chairperson of the District Six working committee, Shahied Ajam, said.

He also lamented that there is only one police station in the area which is Cape Town Central: “We need another police station That police station is already severely overworked and under-resourced.”

A court battle is looming between the District Six Working Committee and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, after the committee filed a court application against the department’s failure to provide restitution to District Six claimants since 1998.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “Police have indicated to me that there is no spike in crime, they are only aware of a decrease. However, they have indicated that vagrants in the area remain a massive problem.”

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Cape Argus