Home­own­ers vs home­less

Bat­tle for Berea as va­grants move into bushy area

Go! & Express - - Front Page - QHAMANI LINGANI

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.

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.

“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.

Pic­ture: QHAMANI LINGANI

ALL SHACKED UP: Va­grants liv­ing in a bushy area in Berea have been blamed for the spike in crime in the Berea and Sel­borne ar­eas. IN­SET: A Berea res­i­dent shows GO! a bro­ken ‘bot­tle­neck’ pipe found in the vicin­ity of the va­grants, used for smok­ing drugs

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