Pensioner complains of crime at Silvertown home

Elizabeth Barnard avoids leaving her home so that she can protect her goods at the home.

Elizabeth Barnard says living at the City of Cape Town’s old aged home in Rainbow Lane in Silvertown has become unpleasant after a number of her belongings went missing.

She said things first started going missing three to four years ago and she suspects that one of the residents is responsible.

The 69-year-old woman said the missing items included her carpets on her stoep, her washing machine, a chair, a heater, a battery of a resident’s car – and a car.

She said because of the amount of theft at the home, she stopped going to church, out of fear that she’d come home to find more items missing.

Ms Barnard also complained that the pedestrian gate was secured with a chain to prevent people from just walking into the premises. This, however, meant that residents had to enter and exit through a big, heavy gate meant for vehicular access.

“It is really like a living hell here. Your visitors are not even allowed to sleep over and some people have keys to the gate and others don’t,” she said.

In December last year Ms Barnard’s washing machine, which she had only had for a year, went missing from the laundry room on the premises. She said some of the tenants had contacted the City, but no action had been taken. Stuart Diamond, Mayco member for the City’s Assets and Facilities Management said the City was aware of the problem at the home. “Security at the complex is continually breached by the tenants, who are allegedly making copies of the gate keys and giving them to family and friends.

“This issue was discussed by the Athlone housing officials with the tenants and caregiver on numerous occasions but this practice is still continuing.

“Tenants were advised to report incidents of theft from their units and vehicles to the South African Police Service for investigation,” said Mr Diamond.

When asked what security measures had been in place at the home bearing in mind that the tenants were old and frail, Mr Diamond said that the complex was secured by walls and palisade fencing which were topped with electric fencing.

He also said that to help stop unauthorised entry into the complex, the pedestrian gate on the side of the complex had been locked. This then forced all tenants and visitors to use the main pedestrian gate or big sliding gate which are next to each other.

“There are only three residents with vehicles who use the drive-through gate. All of the other residents can use the pedestrian gate,” he said.

Sergeant Zita Norman, spokeswoman for Athlone police station, said she would be visiting the old aged home next week to give the senior citizens a talk about safety.

“I will be speaking to them about basic safety such as not to be as trustworthy and hand out copies of their keys to friends and family. They also tend to be quite forgetful and leave their doors unlocked,” she said.

Ms Barnard also complained that there is often a lingering smell of dagga coming from one of the units close to her. She said that at night her throat becomes extremely painful.

Mr Diamond said that all tenants of the City were informed when signing the lease agreement that substance abuse, among other contraventions, would not be tolerated. He said should tenants be guilty of these transgressions, their tenancy would be terminated. He also said the installation of gate motors was currently being investigated.

“The City is doing all it can to ensure the comfort and safety of the residents. However, residents also need to work with us to ensure that they do not place themselves at unnecessary risk. They need to refrain from giving out keys to the gates,” he added.