Subway reopened

The Sillwood subway has been reopened. Picture: Wesley Ford
When homeless people locked themselves inside a Rondebosch railway subway it caused a ripple effect that prevented communities and residents from using the thoroughfare for two weeks.

The City reopened the Sillwood subway under Campground Road last week after closing from Thursday October 18 to Wednesday October 31.

The trouble began when the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District’s (GSCID) locks on the subway were broken.

The GSCID had been locking locking the subway overnight since 2013, to prevent it from being vandalised and to stop homeless people from sleeping there.
But before the locks could be replaced, homeless people locked themselves inside the subway overnight, using their own lock, according to Nina Farrell, the GSCID’s general manager.

The GSCID, with the help of social workers, removed the homeless people, but the City then stepped in and locked the subway completely, pending an investigation.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said the temporary closure had been a joint decision with the City, ward councillor Sharon Cottle and the Rondebosch Community Improvement District due to “unhygienic conditions, the presence of vagrants and criminal elements as well as safety issues.”

This sparked several complaints from residents.

The campus manager at Rustenburg Girls’ High School, Myles Siebrits, said pupils crossing Campground Road risked being hit by cars.

Irvine Short, a Rondebosch resident, said: “I personally use the subway and usually when I bike through there are a few pedestrians using that subway at the same time.”

The City then reopened the subway.

“After receiving numerous complaints, the GSCID has since indicated that the opening and closing of the subway will resume, as was done previously,” said Mr Neilson.

Ms Farrell said the GSCID had fitted new locks on Wednesday October 31. 

The subway would again be locked from 8pm to at 5am, as it had been previously.

Ms Farrell said several subways had been locked at night since 2013.

They included the one near the Silwood Centre, the one on the corner of Belmont and Campground roads, Alma Park subway and Upper Liesbeek subway.