Problems persist at Kenilworth station

The remains of a cooking fire.

The problems that have dogged the parking lot opposite Kenilworth railway station are persisting, said ward councillor Ian Iversen.

The Tatler reported last month (“Stonewalled,” Tatler, June 9) that City officials had lined the parking lot with boulders to stop homeless people sleeping there.

However, despite the introduction of security personnel between 8am and 5pm, Mr Iversen said the area continued to be favoured by sex workers and criminals who lurked among the homeless.

“The manned security trailer comes at a cost of R200 000 a year, but still we have problems. Every night the vagrants make fires to cook food near the clinic,” he told the Tatler during a site visit this week.

“The issue is exacerbated by residents giving the homeless food. Residents should rather go through homeless shelters to do this, otherwise there is no incentive for people to leave the area. I am trying to get the locals involved in our efforts to rectify the situation.”

The criminal elements, he said, were not syndicated in any way, but would target vehicles left by commuters travelling by train to other parts of Cape Town.

“You get a lot of smash-and-grabs here. The other problem is that some vagrants target women drivers, by washing their cars when they are not here and demanding money when they return.

“The drug dealers remain a big problem. There are drug treatment facilities nearby, so if you have people selling drugs it is going to make patients’ rehabilitation that much harder.”

The City became aware of the criminal elements among Kenilworth’s homeless when Metro police officers accompanied social workers on their rounds.

“Between 10 percent and 20 percent of the people have criminal records or outstanding warrants of arrest. Also, many of the homeless use children to beg on their behalf. There have even been instances where children are hired to beg.”

Mr Iversen said several areas along the wall had been heavily cemented at steep angles to prevent people from sleeping there. “Somehow they still manage to sleep there.”

In another effort to improve the parking lot, the City introduced several stations for residents to park their bicycles. However, this, too, had not had the desired result.

“Of course people are simply too afraid to leave their bicycles chained up here.”

Kenilworth station is not the councillor’s only area of concern in the suburb.

In Main Road, failure to repair pavements following the installation of underground internet cables has created a series of “trenches and dongas”.

“I am working with the roads branch to have this fixed as quickly as possible, but it is not easy. The company which puts in the cables is not the same as the one responsible for the repair operations, as a lot of the work is sub-contracted. So you never know who is responsible.”