Spate of robberies at City structures

The building was flooded after robbers stole the taps.

Robberies at City properties are on the rise in Bonteheuwel – the latest one targeted being the Metropolitan Local Football Association sports complex. It was robbed and vandalised last Saturday.

In February the City of Cape Town’s sub-council office in Bonteheuwel was broken into twice (“Sub-council office burgled twice”, Athlone News, February 14).

Chairperson of the sports club, Wayne Weitz, said he was informed of the break-in at the football club’s office in Melkhout Street, around 10am on Sunday March 25.

He said that the office had also been broken into in January, as well as in last year.

“This time they destroyed the toilets, wash basins and stole our sports jerseys, and equipment. They even took our trophies and flooded the whole place because they took the taps.

“Some files were also destroyed and at the moment we are checking for missing documents. I’m not sure if this is because of vandalism or spite,” said Mr Weitz.

He said robbers had gained access to the premises, which is also known as the “White House”, by breaking a window before breaking down security gates and doors which would be costly to replace.

“We are urging the community to speak up about this and tell us who the perpetrators are. We will, however, continue to
play football despite this,” he said.

Mr Weitz, who believes that unemployment drives crime in the area, said: “People are forced to do all sorts of criminal acts for money. This needs to be addressed because we are providing a service that is very much needed in the community. Youngsters on the Cape Flats need sport.”

Bishop Lavis police station commander, Brigadier Christopher Jones, said the sports complex had become a crime hot spot and that they were investigating the recent break-in.

Bishop Lavis Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, Graham Lindhorst, agreed that the complex was a hot spot, adding that it was known for gang activity, in particular.

“The area needs proper security. We do patrol but we cannot provide security for the place. It’s not feasible as we don’t have the numbers to do it. There have been many shootings on that field. We are here as the CPF but we cannot do the work of the police and the City. The City needs to take control of the land,” he said.

The City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for area central, Siyabulela Mamkeli, said: “Sadly, the City’s infrastructure is increasingly becoming the victim of vandalism on a daily basis.

“To add insult to injury, some facilities suffer repeated acts of vandalism, with the perpetrators returning time and again to wreak further damage and destruction. The extent of damage is devastating and these acts of vandalism and theft have deprived communities of highly valued facilities.”

He added that many of the City’s facilities faced the same challenges across the metropole and that the City did not have the resources to place security at these facilities 24/7.

“The cost (of having) security guards would be excessive as 24-hour security is required and multiple security guards are needed.”

Asked what the possible solution was to prevent another break-in, he said: “The traditional private security solution is clearly not the answer to the problem either, with regard to cost or efficiency.

“Rather, we have looked at more innovative ways of protecting these assets where we will employ local neighbourhood watch members, some of whom have been trained as law enforcement auxiliary officers (reservists) and who are employed through the Expanded Public Works Programme.

“Facility Protection Officers (FPOs) deployed in eight different areas will guard 15 facilities, including the Metropolitan Sports Field in Bonteheuwel. We believe that this initiative will bring about dramatic improvements in all of the areas where they are deployed and will dramatically reduce levels of vandalism and theft.”

He also called on the community to work with the City to try and curb these incidents.

“Residents are encouraged to report any incidents of vandalism to the City’s emergency 107 line. The caller will be transferred to the relevant emergency service provider. Dial 107 from a Telkom line or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.”