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Fence still in half as crime soars

Crime is rising in their area and yet residents of Bellville South are still stuck with half a fence.

And if the current economic climate is anything to go by, they’ll be stuck like that for a while yet.

Last year, residents were overjoyed when they saw workers constructing a fence next to the railway line – a spot notorious for crime. This joy quickly turned to dismay when the contractors from Transnet only built the fence up to a specific point, saying the rest of the land (and thus fence) is Prasa’s responsibility.

Residents were therefore left with a perfectly built fence which stops in the middle of nowhere, easy for criminals to walk around.

TygerBurger reported on the half-fenced spectacle last year (“Halwe heining ’n teer punt”, 4 April 2019).

The railway line serves as a border between Bellville South, Belrail and the Triangle Farm industrial area. Next to the physical lines is a field where, neighbourhood watch members say, criminals often like to hide behind bushes. These criminals have no difficulty coming into the area and often target pedestrians who use the route as a shortcut to the Bellville taxi rank and train station.

When trains stop due to any reason (like faulty signals), criminals target them.

Dominique Mahno, a member of the Bellville South Sector 1 Neighbourhood Watch, says they’ve encountered all types of crime – often violent – in the area. They also regularly pick up school bags and cards discarded by criminals after they’ve robbed people.

The chair of the watch, Gordon Nel, told Cape Talk last week they’ve seen a big increase in crime in the area – especially during the lockdown period.

This with the added blow of fewer people willing to patrol as they’re scared of infection.

Last year Riana Scott, spokesperson for Prasa, said Transnet (who set up the fence) and Prasa have different goals and prioritities. There are many projects that compete for a set budget, she argued. This year, when approached, Scott said she would bring this issue to the attention of management again.

“We understand residents’ concerns,” she said. “But it is general knowledge that Prasa currently receives basically no income under the current Covid-19 regulations.”

She said there are plans to fence “critical” and “priority” areas, but once again stressed that this was subject to available funds.

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