Crawford bridge spans a cesspool of crime, prostitution and the foul stench of human waste, say residents.
A dozen vagrants have occupied rooms under the bridge, putting a padlock on one of them, and they are refusing to budge, say the residents. They accuse the vagrants of smoking drugs, getting drunk, lighting fires and using the area as a toilet and a garbage dump.
Nigel Diedericks says several complaints to ward councillor Rashid Adams about the deteriorating situation have done no good.
“Residents don’t even use the subway anymore because they are afraid of the vagrants and getting sick,” he said. “We’ve complained about this since October last year, and only two vagrants were removed, but when you remove them more come back.”
AthCraw neigbourhood watch chairman Steven Adriaanse said the bridge was a “hot spot” and they spent lot of time there every night attending to problems when they could rather be dealing with other pressing issues.
“They make fires and one woman was hurt in the fire,” he said. “They refuse to relocate. They sell drugs and liquor, and when you walk there you have to dodge poop land mines. Every night, there is an issue there; it is a huge problem for us. Three weeks ago, we cleaned up, and the very next day, the situation was the same.”
Mr Adams said the City of Cape Town had offered to relocate the vagrants to their families or to a shelter, with transport included, but only two had been interested.
“Unfortunately there are laws that prohibit the City from just removing people so we have decided on a site visit on March 30 to see what solutions we can come up with,“ he said.
Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community service and health, said an increase in vagrancy in suburbs across the city was linked to the state of disaster.
The City was working with both state agencies and NGOs and “doing everything possible” to help street people, including helping them get off the streets and into shelters, reunite with families, access social and medical services, and get IDs and social grants.
However, he added, many vagrants refused help and chose to stay on the streets, often because of ready access to public handouts.
Mr Badroodien said any criminal activity should be reported to the police.