Burglars are using a Kenilworth sports field as an escape route and the homeless are sleeping there because the City of Cape Town’s security measures are inadequate, say residents.
Madeegh Collins, who lives next to Rosmead sports ground, installed a camera to eye his backyard because things were going missing from his home almost daily.
Mr Collins said the camera had caught several people jumping into his backyard and then escaping through the field.
“I have found items littered across the field in the past, which are signs of these criminals scavenging through the stolen goods before they escape. There is no security on the field, nobody to chase them away, so they have all the time in the world to plan their entrance, but the question remains: how are they coming into the sports ground?”
Mr Colllins’s backyard security camera is supported by barbed wire and a dog.
“I have to turn my space into a mini prison, because the break-ins are quite hectic this side, especially for the people living next to the field. I can’t understand why the space is so easily accessible.”
Another resident, Veronique Atkins, agreed, saying she had asked the council many times to fix the fence around the field, but: “They have failed us”.
The City had done “temporary repairs” but a more permanent job was needed.
“After the first few times, you would think the City would wake up and offer a more permanent solution, but they fail to do so. Instead, they spend money on a contractor who comes out and patches up the holes in the fence. In a matter of hours, this patched-up work gets botched up and the problems continue.”
Homeless people were also getting onto the field and sleeping there at night, leaving a mess in the morning, she said. Others had made fires to stay warm at night.
“This is not a shelter, and just the fact that they are entering the field this easily is of real concern, not only to me, but many of the residents as well. We not saying these homeless are the criminals, but some of them are cutting holes in the fence and this could lead to criminals taking advantage of this,” Ms Atkins said.
The field is council-owned and managed by a facility management committee (FMC), a private body that, in turn, leases the grounds to various sports clubs. However, the City is responsible for mowing the fields and perimeter maintenance, while the FMC looks after the clubhouse and sports equipment.
Claremont Village Civic Association chairman Paul Jakobsen said the issue had dragged on for two years with several burglaries at the clubhouse in that time, the latest seeing the loss of new cricket equipment that had been donated.
“The City keeps sending out contractors to perform a temporary repair, and it’s clear that it is not working. Part of the fence was bent open, and now there is easy access to the grounds,” he added.
Mr Jakobsen said Meyer Street had endured a “very bad crime spike” and many residents blamed the sports field for granting criminals a quick escape.
“The City needs to implement a more permanent solution to the problem. These temporary solutions are clearly not helping.”
Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, said the City had made temporary repairs to the fence and “plans are under way for a permanent replacement”, although the cost for it “have not been finalised at this time”.
The City had also posted security guards at the facility since February, he said.
“The City is cognisant of the fact that damage to fences makes these facilities vulnerable to vandalism and criminal elements. The fence has previously been repaired, but vagrants repeatedly caused damage, hence the need for a more secure structure.”