Homeowners vs homeless

Battle for Berea as vagrants move into bushy area

VAGRANTS have found a haven in a bush in Berea but residents are outraged and are requesting Buffalo City Metro to clear it out as soon as possible.

ALL SHACKED UP : Vagrants living in a bushy are in Berea have been blamed for the spike in crime in Berea and Selborne areas. Picture : QHAMANI LINGANI

The bush is situated between Ashley Road and the Hamilton Sports Club. Residents in Berea reckon the break-ins into vehicles and homes over the last month are caused by the vagrants.

According to Bruce Viaene and Simon Pienaar-Hamillons, who is an assistant manager at the club, there are about five men and one woman who have occupied the area.

When visiting last week, the GO! reporter saw there were two of them at the time. Asked when they would be vacating the area as they have been asked by Pienaar-Hamillons before, one of them said he was on his way back home already.

A Berea resident shows Go! a broken ‘bottleneck’ pipe found in the vicinity of the vagrants, used for smoking drugs. Picture : QHAMANI LINGANI

“I am just here to fetch my clothes. I am going now,” said the man who did not want to be named.

Pienaar-Hamillons said: “This is what he said last week. This is such a hassle for the club, as there have been break-ins into the vehicles and the club and we believe it’s the same guys.

“They have broken into the office and stolen the manager’s laptop. There has been vandalism as well. They have made holes in the fence and jump through. We have camera footage of these guys coming into the club late at night.”

Anton de Coning, who is a resident in Berea, said the vagrants living there were depreciating the value of their properties.

“This is also a health hazard; people walk and cycle around here,” he said.

“There has been an increase in break-ins and the first people we are going to point our fingers at, are these guys. They could be innocent. I even considered getting 15 rugby players after a couple of beers and having a chat with these guys, but I didn’t,” said De Coning.

Viaene suggested that BCM clear the bush.

“It is common land but it is not for housing. Everyone needs a home. I feel for them. We moved to Berea in August [last year] and they stole our wedding stuff in November. Our car was also broken into three times [already].”

De Coning said he had reported this to the municipality but he had not received a response.

“This is a big fire hazard too. The way it [the shack] is built, is illegal.”

Contacted for comment, BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya had not responded at the time of going to print.



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