Residents want Prasa to complete railway wall

The Community of Bonteheuwel Association wants Prasa to close gaps in a railway wall.

A Bonteheuwel civic group wants the country’s railway parastatal to plug gaps in a wall along one of its lines to keep feuding gangs apart.

Abie Clayton, chairman of the Community of Bonteheuwel Association, says gangsters from Kalksteenfontein slip into Bonteheuwel through openings in the pre-cast concrete wall along the line near Blombos Street and shoot over the road at their rivals.

The sporadic shootings between the Americans and Dixie Boys have held the community hostage, he says. The gunfights spill into Bramble Way and force children to flee from nearby parks

“People are afraid to walk to the shop or make their way to work in the morning. You can’t walk around at night either because the shootings happen at any time of the day.”

Mr Clayton wants the Passenger Rail Agency of South (PRASA) to complete work on the wall to keep the gangs apart.

“It is so sad to see our children falling into this life of crime. I want to move but I am not in a financial position to do that. It is horrible living like this, we are frustrated and fear for our lives.”

The ward councillor, Angus McKenzie, said he has asked Prasa several times to complete the wall.

“The incomplete wall has not just led to the fact that gangsters from either side are making use of the space to get through and shoot but also, very importantly, the gap has encouraged the vandalism of the rail network.”

Prasa should explain what the hold-up was and not use Covid-19 as an excuse, he said.

“Despite numerous promises from the president in his state of the nation address, the national minister of transport and Prasa themselves, it still has not materialised.

“Where is the R1.4 billion allocated to the central line? This situation is making crime-fighting excessively difficult for both SAPS, law enforcement and members of the public.

“More concerning is the removal of the rail enforcement unit which patrolled this line – this was due to Prasa pulling out of an agreement between the City and province.”

Prasa spokeswoman, Riana Scott, said both conventional and steel or concrete palisade fencing was prone to vandalism and theft in some areas, including Bontheuwel.

The 2m-high concrete wall between Nyanga and Lansdowne bridge was a pilot project to test its feasibility to protect critical areas, Ms Scott said. It had been deemed a success and was being rolled out on the central corridor ahead of the replacement of vandalised infrastructure.

“As part of Prasa’s R1.4b recovery of the central line, critical areas will be walled/enclosed including the Netreg-Bonteheuwel section. Commuters, communities and the public will be informed as soon as contracts have been awarded.”