A green war is emerging in the suburb of Gonubie over shrubs lining the coastal road.
On one side are concerned residents who believe the shrubs harbour criminals and should be cut down while on the other side are scientists against destroying the bush.
Fed up with a series of burglaries, some residents who live near Black Rock in Gonubie started clearing part of the indigenous bush along Oceanway.
This after residents on multiple occasions tried to contact Buffalo City Metro to clear out the Inkberry bush and invasive species, appeals that fell on deaf ears according to residents.
The bush is apparently being used by criminals, and residents have found mattresses, linen, and bags of clothing when clearing out the bush.
Gonubie resident Henri Smit thought he was doing a good deed for the community when he started chopping down alien species to clear out the area.
He said he was told to stop chopping down trees by people who called themselves nature conservationists.
Smit, said he was unaware of the implications surrounding the vegetation.
“After all the terrible things that have been happening in our area, I apprehended a guy in the same bush a few weeks ago after he attacked a lady on the beach, two joggers were knocked over from behind by a motorist because the bush had overgrown into the road.
“Residents can’t run in this area, our community is in a bad state and as residents, we were fed up with nothing being done about it – so we need to take a stand and clean up the area around us.”
Smit has since applied for a permit to continue clearing the alien species and said he would keep the area in front of his home neat should it be granted.
However, Buffalo City Metro’s chief of marine services, Siani Tinley said it was illegal and detrimental to the environment.
“This type of thing is starting to get more common with other indiscriminate cutting of indigenous trees within the city.”
Tinley said chopping down coastal vegetation could open up vulnerable spots where “wind and weather can erode the coastal vegetation left and start opening up sand blowouts.
“It also allows for a more aggressive growth of alien vegetation in that specific [cleared area],” Tinley said.
Another Gonubie resident, Amanda Ludik, who had been living in the area for more than 14 years, said clearing out the entire area would make her happy.
“It would make me very happy if we could clear this whole area out, it is not about the view, it is about safety.”
Angela Woodhall, who lives opposite the cleared out bush, appealed to the relevant authorities to have it removed.
“One of the most concerning things about this is that the bush dwellers are watching us, it
is almost as if we are hemmed
“We are appreciative of people who are trying to make a positive difference in our community, but we are appealing that the bush be properly maintained as it poses a risk for us as residents.”
East London scientist, Kevin Cole said the public needed to be reminded that it was illegal to chop down trees and could result in hefty fines or prosecution.
“People are not allowed to cut trees down in public open spaces or municipal areas as many indigenous trees are protected by the legislature.
“The person[s] who did this might not face a hefty fine as they cut away alien species but the indigenous plants have been negatively affected.”
Tinley said an investigation would be held and discouraged any similar activities.