A now derelict Sherwood petrol station is said to be a den for vagrants and criminals.
DURBAN - SHERWOOD residents have complained that crime has surged in the area.

An elderly couple who live in Locksley Drive claim the unkempt and derelict petrol station, neglected by its owner for almost two years, is a den for vagrants and criminals.

The couple, who asked not to be named, said what was once a popular petrol station on the corner of King Cetshwayo (Jan Smuts) Highway has become an eyesore that has devalued their homes.

“It has degenerated into an overgrown bush. It is a huge risk taking afternoon walks because of the suspicious people roaming the area,” said the man.

Said his wife: “Break-ins have been on the rise and this has caused families to install expensive security systems. A security guard also patrols our neighbourhood daily, this shows how concerned people are about their safety.”

However, the owner of the old petrol station, Trevor Visvanathan, said he had hired security guards and fenced the area to deter vagrants from entering his premises.

He said he had applied to have the 50-year-old petrol stop rezoned a business area, but municipal by-laws had slowed the process.

“Bureaucracy has delayed the process,” he said. “It is not intentional to frustrate residents in the neighbourhood because we need their support for our business.”

Sydenham CPF spokesperson Satish Dhupelia confirmed there were complaints about the site being an eyesore, from a year ago, but said the owner recently told them he was waiting for licences before upgrading the site.

“We have received no complaints about the site being used to harbour criminals,” he said.

Ward 30 DA councillor Warren Burne said the revamp of the Caltex 45th Cutting station might be imminent because an application for “special consent” had been advertised.