Residents and the Evander Ratepayers Association (ERPA) have raised concerns about homeless people erecting their shelters next to a creek adjacent to Evander Dam along Cornell Road.
After investigation, shelters could be seen and are clearly occupied by homeless people.
Concerns have been expressed about the increase in burglaries and criminal activity since the arrival of the squatters.
“It’s been a problem for months. There has been a huge increase in burglaries in this area,” said Johanny Jagadis of ERPA.
Homeless people apparently also use the streams as toilets.
The water from these streams eventually flows into the Vaal Dam.
“It’s a big concern. The same water goes to Vaal Dam that we end up drinking and using for cooking,” Jagadis said.
He also said that the Municipality of Govan Mbeki and its law enforcement unit, as well as the police are well aware of the situation of the squatters, but are not evicting them.
“The authorities are not doing anything about it. A meeting was held with ERPA, Police, Waste Management, Law Enforcement, Business Development and Social Development where these concerns were raised,” Jagadis said.
He said even questions about CBD and taverns were also raised.
When squatters are removed from an area, they will simply go find another place to squat.
A permanent solution on shelters must be found where homeless people can also be housed, instead of invading residential areas where law-abiding citizens have to pay taxes.
Although the squatters seem to be silent, residents say they are scared.
“We don’t know what their next move will be,” said one resident.
The resident said it’s scary having to park in their driveway because you can’t tell where the criminals are hiding, especially at night.
“GMM needs to make facilities available for these people because it is not acceptable for them to stay there. It’s not healthy and it’s cold,” the resident said.
She said it’s not safe for squatters either because when it rains the streams get flooded and because the squatters stay on the banks of the stream they can drown.
Worries are that property values will also decline because people won’t want to buy in an area surrounded by squatters.
Another resident, whose father is a member of the Muslim mosque on Cornell Road, said the mosque allowed homeless people to sleep on church premises.
“I feel sorry for them. They stayed at the mosque for a while, but a few times we had to kick them out because of the mess they left,” the resident said.
He went on to say that the squatter was told he could only return on the condition that he clean up after him because it was a church.
“They were leaving their excrement all over the place and they also started stealing equipment,” the resident said.
The resident said the police did nothing to help remove the squatters and that their removal was carried out by members of the mosque.
“We had to ask members of the Kinross mosque to help us clear the squatters.”
The resident once again pointed the finger at the municipality and said they had to fix this squatter problem.
“Crime is bad, nothing is safe here. They run straight across the field and out to the highway. You can’t leave anything outside. They even steal our brass locks on our doors,” the resident said.
He said they couldn’t leave the house without anyone staying home at some point during the day due to escalating crime.
Squatters are also said to use taps on people’s properties and let them run. They also dig into black bags and leave the place messy.
“They dig through the black bags to find empty boxes and stuff and leave a mess. Our property value is down,” the resident said.
While the Peak time were talking to residents and ERPA, a police van drove past the squatter as if it was the norm and allowed.