Canal breeds crime

This canal, which runs through Bacj, Sonata and Beethoven streets and to Prince George Drive, has been at the centre of much debate, as the crime rate surrounding it has shown an increase.

After several fatal shootings, robberies and other illicit activities, Steenberg residents have asked the City of Cape Town to close a dangerous thoroughfare in the area.

The last fatal shooting at the canal, which runs through Bach, Sonata and Beethoven streets and to Prince George Drive, happened on Tuesday January 10 and has left residents fearing for their safety.

Resident Rashied Abrahams said the activities at the canal had caused much trauma and fear.

“There are robberies, gang shootings, drug peddling, dumping and many other things happening at this canal and the criminals get away because they can easily run over Prince George Drive and disappear without police ever standing a chance of catching them.

“The madness has to end. We have sleepless nights because there is constant movement at the canal.“

I won’t even allow my grown children to walk to the taxi in Joe Marks Boulevard alone because these criminals take any opportunity to rob. Something needs to be done and the only solution would be to fence up the canal,” said Mr Abrahams.

This is, however, not the first time residents have raised concerns.

At a meeting held in July 2015, which Southern Mail attended, the same issues were raised with Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen.

At the time residents, of the streets neighbouring the canal, handed over a petition to the councillor to request that the the thoroughfare be closed with fencing all along the waterway that runs along Prince George Drive which they believe will solve many of their crime issues.

Resident Raymond Linevee, who is also a member of the Sonata Street neighbourhood watch, said crime was a major problem in the area and said it can be directly linked to the canal.

He said robberies and gang shootings were frequent and that break-ins had also increased dramatically.

“We are at our wits’ end. We need council to step in and fence off the thoroughfare.”

At the time of the 2015 meeting, Ms Petersen wasn’t convinced that fencing off the thoroughfare would help.

She said crime in the area could not be assumed to be perpetrated by Lavender Hill residents and said fencing the area would cost too much money and would probably be broken down by residents who use it the thoroughfare as a faster way to get to either to Lavender Hill or through Steenberg to school or work.

Mr Abrahams, however, said safety trumped wanting a faster route to a neighbouring community.

“I’m not saying we are more important because we really aren’t. Everyone is equal. All I’m saying is that safety and security should be higher on the priority list than saving people two minutes walking from one road to another,” he said.

After discussions with the City’s roads and stormwater; and the parks and recreation departments, however, Ms Petersen said the closure was now being supported by the City.

“I have made ward allocations available to close the canal off which will become available in the 2017/2018 budget year. However, this will be done at intermittent sections which includes Bach Lane, then Beethoven and then at Sonata Street,” said Ms Petersen.

She added that combating and investigating crime was the responsibility of police, and urged residents to report crime to them.

“Beethoven Street has a neighbourhood watch that the City assisted with training and will receive resources in order to assist with crime prevention.

“The community is requested to report crime as well as dumping in the area. The canal area at Sonata Street is a dumping hot spot that is being cleaned regularly by the City. However, keeping the area clean is not helping (to prevent) prevent further dumping.

“Dumping should be reported and the community needs to assist in the prevention thereof. Turning a blind eye does not help. Holding the City liable for dumping is also not fair,” she said.

Steenberg police’s Warrant Officer John Bartlett confirmed the murder and said police will continue patroling the area.

“Any crimes in the area can be reported to the Steenberg station. The closing of the thoroughfare has been a topic of discussion for a while but it is at the City’s and councillors discretion. The closing of the canal won’f negatively affect policing in the area,” said Warrant Officer Bartlett.

No arrests have yet been made in the murder. Anyone with information can contact investigating officer Hlaole Mmola on 021 702 9000.