Blackouts blamed for vandalism

The Heideveld Town Centre building has become a target of vandalism.

Load shedding has been blamed for vandalism plaguing the Heideveld Town Centre building.

There has been rampant theft and vandalism at the building in recent months, says Abdul Aziz Adams, the chairman of the Heideveld Town Centre Closed Cooperation.

Thieves have taken light switches, lights, glass from the main door, wiring and pipes, and they damaged the roof when they climbed into the men’s bathroom to cut a length of pipe that caused flooding on the first and second floors.

Criminals were taking advantage of the darkness during the load shedding to gut a building that was there for the benefit of the community, said Mr Adams.

“The insurance doesn’t cover everything. It might seem like small problems, but these all add up to a pretty penny. Because of the theft, all of the doctors have moved out already as well as the advice office, so now residents can’t come here about their problems… If only they realised that the building was meant for the community.”

Built in 1972, the building is owned by the Heideveld Town Centre Closed Corporation, which is made up of tenants.

The building has been home to doctors, dentists, shops and the Heideveld Advice Office.

A woman who owns a business in the building said the tenants were fed up with the ongoing vandalism. The thieves had also tried to break into the building during daytime load shedding, she said.

“We can hear what they are doing, but they think that no one is here. The owners don’t know what to do anymore.

“Two Fridays ago, they made a huge bonfire against the side of the building with about 20 tyres. I called SAPS, but they said that Law Enforcement already logged a call. I don’t know if they even came out. We need more safety patrolling during load-shedding hours.”

The woman did not want to give her name as she fears for her safety,

Manenberg police spokesman Captain Ian Bennett said residents and businesses had become targets of crime during load shedding and it included robberies and the theft of vital infrastructure, such as high-voltage cables.

“During this time, SAPS members have been sensitised to being more visible in hot-spot areas. We encourage our community to be more aware during this vulnerable time of load shedding. They should report anything that is suspicious or criminal behaviour,” he said.