Fed up over broken fence

Hazendal residents fixed a vandalised fence along the railway line, saying criminals used the gap as a throughway after committing crime.

Rn news fence

In an effort to curb criminals and illegal dumping, a group of Hazendal residents took it upon themselves to fix a fence along the railway line in Albermarle Street.

A section of the fence was vandalised more than two years ago, on both the Hazendal and Sybrand Park sides, and residents believe this was the work of criminals, who used the railway line as a quick getaway after committing criminal acts.

Resident Bevan Gossmann said since the fence had been vandalised, people stopped using the subway at Hazendal train station as well, and instead used the broken fence as a throughway to gain access to the station.

“To us the issue is not that people used it as a short cut to the platforms of the station, the issue is that it facilitated criminal activity. It has been two-and-a-half years since it was vandalised and we have been in communication with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), as well as the ward councillor. Prasa has been ignoring our plea all this time. We have been chasing guys on the railway line after they committed a crime, and it got to a point where I got frustrated and I initiated the fixing of the fence,” Mr Gossmann said.

Charles Golding, another resident, said it all just became too much for them, and a few of them joined Mr Gossmann in his quest to fix it.

“We were just gatvol. It has become such a travesty. Besides the criminal element, people also dumped in front of our homes. There was just no interest from Prasa when we communicated with them via email. We received no response,” Mr Golding said.

On Saturday June 12, a group of about six set out to fix the fence, when they noticed a double fence on the other side of the railway line. They proceeded to remove the one fence, to use it for the fixing. This nearly got them into trouble with the authorities.

Said Mr Golding: “The security guards on the station called the railway police on us. We then managed to get the contact number for Prasa’s regional manager for maintenance, and he gave us verbal permission to continue.”

Ward 49 councillor, Rashid Adams, confirmed that some residents approached him about their concerns.

“I contacted Prasa, and Sub-council 17 also submitted an enquiry to them. This was some time last year. I followed up in December, and then again in January, but Prasa never responded. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Prasa did replace a section of the fence, but not the section that was vandalised. The land belongs to Prasa, and not the City of Cape Town, and the responsibility lies with Prasa. I understand the residents’ frustration and I applaud what they did,” Mr Adams said.

Mr Gossmann said it has been peaceful in the area since the fence was fixed, adding that residents check on the fence every day to ensure nobody vandalises it again.

Prasa spokesperson, Riana Scott, said vandalism has always been a challenge, and incidents of vandalism has gone up since the hard lockdown last year.

“Prasa fencing between stations serve primarily as demarcation of boundary. The replacement or fixing of it is done on a rotational basis (from one end to the other), based on available allocated funding,” Ms Scott said.