Cape Town - Urine, faeces and rubbish mixed with the smell of burning plastic is what lingered in the air during a joint operation with police, law enforcement and the Passenger Rail Agency South Africa in Woodstock early on Thursday.
The Weekend Argus went along to observe the operation, in which officers braved the cold to address safety complaints of business owners and daily commuters.
Station and Salt River roads, as well as Bromwell Street and abandoned buildings were raided. Police made a quick stop at the Woodstock Police Station to take in some of the suspects they had arrested.
Then it was back to the raid. In empty shacks next to the railway line, police found holes under the informal dwellings. Hidden inside were mandrax tablets, hammers, axes and spades.
Business owners in the area said they feared for their lives.
“These people are threatening us and want to rob us. We see them dealing drugs. It’s good that they are being arrested,” said a shop owner on Salt River Road.
Inside the shacks were cables, a sword hidden in rubble, spades, hammers and drugs. A breast pump used to smoke tik, axes and a gun were also found, as were train doors outside the dwellings.
Police found five bags of dagga, 37 tik lollies and 23 packets of tik, and 10 mandrax tablets. A total of 23 women and 37 men were arrested.
One suspect was arrested for dealing drugs and three suspects were charged with possession of dagga.
On June 11, 56 suspects will appear in court for trespassing.