Residents call for fencing and lights

Sasmeer Estate residents are hoping a long-term solution is found to curb crime on the Retreat side of the Princess Vlei.

The are calling on the City of Cape Town to put fencing and lighting at the open land along Sasmeer Road.

Hilary Voskuil, who has been living next to the vlei all her life, said the open space opposite her home has become a danger to them with robberies, rapes and vagrants as well as prostitution and public drinking taking place there.

“We are too afraid to come out of our homes, especially at night, because we do not know who is lurking in the overgrown bushes. We don’t allow our children to play outside and we’ve tried to keep the area clean but we can only do so much. The City of Cape Town has to keep the area under control because when the grass is long and the bushes are overgrown, that’s when the criminal elements thrive,” she said.

Another resident, Jaylyn Raven said she fears for her and her children’s safety.

“At night people roam around, sniff their petrol or glue bottles, drink, smoke and become rowdy so there are constant problems, especially at the canal. We cannot walk down the road because anyone could be lurking in the bushes. We are always on our guard,” said Ms Raven.

The body of a 68-year-old man was found at the vlei in August, sending shock waves through the small community.

Steenberg police spokesperson, Sergeant Wesley Twigg, confirmed an inquest was opened to investigate the circumstances around the discovery.

“We can confirm that a body was found at the vlei of a person who was reported missing but no foul play is suspected,” he said.

He, however, confirmed that cases of rape and robbery were reported at the vlei.

“We do regular patrols at the vlei according to our crime threat and pattern analysis but it is also the responsibility of the other law enforcement agencies,” said Sergeant Twigg.

The City of Cape Town sent a team of workers out to the bushed up area on Thursday October 31 to clear out most of the overgrowth but Ms Voskuil said this doesn’t happen often enough.

Ward councillor Kevin Southgate said after the body was found a meeting was held with residents to address the matter.

“We then made an undertaking that we will cut down the growth in the area to improve the visibility but the fynbos is a protected species and we couldn’t cut down everything but we engaged the environmental health department and it was indicated that the plants were busy seeding so the delay was to facilitate seeding before any further cutting was done,” he said.

He said the land is maintained and there is a set schedule for cutting the grass and other bushes regularly. “However, the good rains Cape Town has gotten intermittently exaggerated the growth.

“We are committed to making sure the area stays safe,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of fencing around the vlei, Mr Southgate said the initial sentiment from residents and all stakeholders was that it would take away the feel of the open facility.

“As time went on residents indicated that they want a fence along Sasmeer Road and we have put the proposal forward. This will have to become part of the overall plan of the upgrade of the area and at our next meeting we will discuss it. Putting up a fence is a huge investment and we need to look at how it will be done.

“The matter is receiving our full attention all the time and we’re keeping our foot on the pedal and we’ll ensure we give attention to it on an ongoing basis,” said Mr Southgate.

At the time of going to print the City of Cape Town did not respond to enquiries.