Two shacks built against a council flat in Kewtown are being used as a drug den, say residents.
Drug merchants smoke drugs and abuse alcohol in the shacks, prostitutes use them and stolen goods are stored there, claim the residents of Kannabast Close.
The residents fear for their safety and don’t want to be named. One of them claims muggers who prey on schoolchildren for their cellphones and money have been seen running into one of the shacks.
“Children are being robbed every day. You give your child a cellphone to make sure that they get to school safely and get home safely, but they are robbed. So what is the use?”
Another resident said drugs were delivered night and day, and loud music and fighting could be heard into the early hours of morning.
“We can’t live like this,“ the resident said. ”We are taking a stand now for our own community.“
Another resident said her son had been murdered in one of the shacks 16 years ago. She could not handle the noise at night, and her daughter slept with earphones in her ears to get a night’s rest.
“The police come and throw it down and arrest them, but the next day it starts again,“ she said. ”We don’t know what to do anymore.“
Athlone police station commander Captain Mark Adonis said the shacks were on their list of known drug dens, but the police couldn’t tear them down as they were council property. There had been several arrests at the shacks, he said, but residents refused to give witness statements.
“We try to go another route if we can’t get their statements so that the culprits are still prosecuted, but in a few months they are out of jail, and it starts again. We are working on these drug dens, and we are open to suggestions from the community. They can come and see me, and we can talk about this,” he said.
Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said relatives of council-flat tenants lived in both shacks, and the City had issued the tenants with compliance notices, in November last year, as well as several verbal and written warnings to remove the shacks and cease illegal activities and anti-social behaviour on council property.
”The City cannot allow illegal activities on or in its property and therefore will consider and utilise all available options in these matters to ensure compliance with the lease contract, which forbids these activities, and also the laws of the country,“ he said.
The Athlone News knocked several times on the door of the council flat to which the shacks are attached, but no one answered, and we were unable to source comment from the occupants.