Local news

Squatters under Mayville bridge removed

A major concern was the dumping of refuse and litter into the Apies River that runs parallel to the bridge.

People living under the Es’kia Mphahlele Drive bridge in Mayville have been removed, the local CPF has confirmed.

Albert Michau of the local CPF told Rekord the problem had been going on for far too long and something had to be done.

He said the squatters were removed on Wednesday in a joint effort by the TMPD and the CPF, with the metro’s solid waste team on board to help.

The homeless people had old mattresses and had erected structures there.

Michau said the area was also littered with refuse and discarded clothing.

“We had many complaints from residents and they were asking that we do something about the problem,” he said.

“The biggest complain was about the fires they were making there at night.

“They burned plastic and all sorts of other things that were polluting the air.”

The TMPD team and metro waste removal worked effectively to remove the structures.

Michau added that the refuse strewn about the area created a fly infestation and residents complain that they flew into their houses.

“A worrying trend is that we are seeing more and more illegal shelters popping up in the Moot.

“It feels like we clear one area only to for it to appear somewhere else.”

One of the biggest worries was the dumping of refuse and litter into the Apies River parallel to the bridge.

For years this river has been subject to constant dumping which negatively affects the local ecosystem and water quality.

The pollution has also negatively affected farmers.

In 2021, farmer Theunis Vogel said the polluted water caused him major financial losses.

“I live next to the river and the stench is unbearable and throughout the years it has affected the borehole water.

“The water from the river spilt into my irrigation dam and my crops leaving them damaged and I had to cut them out,” he said.

Michau said he and his team found people living by the river during the operation.

“They sleep next to the river and tossed their rubbish into the water which is just not acceptable.

“We simply cannot allow this situation to carry on.

“The longer we leave it, the worse and worse it will get to a point where it gets out of control.”

Michau said he suspects the squatters have led to an increase in crime but cannot say for sure.

He also feared they were a risk to learners of a nearby school who walk around the area.

The TMPD team and metro waste removal worked effectively to remove the structures.

Ward 54 councillor Elma Nel was also relieved that the situation had been addressed and was impressed with the effectiveness of the operation.

“I want to thank everyone who was involved with Wednesday’s operation,” she told Rekord.

“They did a great job and the area looks much better.”

Nel also asked residents to refrain from throwing out old furniture and blankets on the street.

“This contributes heavily to the problem as they use the furniture to build these structures.”

Homelessness is a growing problem in the Moot with many residents saying it gets worse every day.

“The vagrants are making home in every corner.

“We honestly need an intervention here and we need it fast on behalf of all Moot residents,” said councillor Mari Joubert.

Metro spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said homelessness is of great concern to but that procedure has to be followed to properly deal with it.

“As per standard operating procedure in handling issues relating to homelessness, a social worker will be deployed to the site in question to investigate the matter,” said Mashigo.

“The social worker will then provide feedback in report format with recommendations.”

Mashigo said homelessness is a huge concern in the city, “more especially in areas that have the potential for economic activities”.

“There has been a recent growing trend of homelessness in suburbs where labourers are used by residents for handy jobs such as gardening, plumbing and car washing.

“Upon investigation, the social worker will determine if the homeless people in question are in need of accommodation in shelters.

“If they need accommodation, the social worker will arrange within the existing shelters for the beneficiaries to be relocated to.”

Mashigo said that the metro is working in partnership with various NGOs to provide the homeless with shelters.

“The city in partnership with NGOs has a number of shelters, the closest is in Region 1, Pretoria North.

“It needs to be acknowledged that there is still a need for more shelters as the existing ones do not cater for the demand, however, the city in partnership with NGOs and Gauteng social development department are working on establishing more shelters.”

He added that the health department is developing a substance abuse programme with the help of the University of Pretoria.

Asked why there has been an increase in homelessness over the past few years, Mashigo said the Covid-19 pandemic, migration, substance abuse and the rise of cost of housing have all contributed to the problem.

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