Durban — Devotees of the Reservoir Hills Shri Vishnu Alayam Temple have raised concerns about crime, theft and infrastructure damage to the temple on Umgudulu Road.
So dire is the situation, that 16 members of the community have formed a “Save The Temple” committee which is due to meet at the site on Saturday at 10am.
The devotees have complained about criminal attacks and accused the eThekwini Municipality of neglecting the 115-year-old temple of great spiritual significance to the Hindu community.
Reservoir Hills resident Deon Chetty said the committee will try to establish a way forward to address the issue of theft at the temple.
Chetty said that the site was damaged during the 2022 floods and the eThekwini Municipality had not aided with maintenance.
It had been affected by the influx of squatters and the uncontrolled growth of the M19 squatter settlement.
In the last few months the temple had been vandalised, stripped and robbed of priceless murtis, copper and brass idols; the entire kitchen and air-conditioning systems were stripped and stolen.
The crime and vandalism are threatening the future of the temple.
“It is such a beautiful place; so to see it being stagnant is not great. We have nothing against those who stay in the settlements as we understand their plight; it is just recently there has been an increase whereby some of those residents have interfered with devotees to the temple, thus affecting devotees’ safety,” Chetty said.
“I don’t feel safe coming to the temple anymore. Even the devotees are leaving their communities and heading to other temples as the environment isn’t safe nor conducive,” he added.
Chetty said that they had reported cases to the municipality and the SAPS since the 2022 floods, but nothing concrete had occurred.
Sydenham police were investigating the criminality.
Reservoir Hills Ratepayers and Residents Association (RHHRA) chairperson, Ish Prahladh, said that there were plans to clean up the river and the surrounding areas of the temple on Wednesday.
He added, “Along with the weFEEDsa team, we will clean up: rivers, bushes, clinics, the Post Office, stairways, pavements, roads, all sides of the M19, the informal settlements and schools.”
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, Luthando Ngubane said places of worship were private properties and the onus was on the property owners to maintain them.
“If the property owners decide to shut down their place of worship, the municipality cannot interfere with their plans or decision.
“With the issue of vandalism, crime and safety that question must be directed to the South African Police Service so that police can investigate accordingly and arrest the perpetrators,” Ngubane said.
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