Homeowners ordered to remove security gate from Cape Town road
Tammy Petersen, News24
Cape Town - Fed up with burglaries in their street, homeowners living in a cul-de-sac in Kuils River spent R20 000 to erect a gate to prevent unfettered access.
But three months after the erection of the palisades, the City of Cape Town ordered it to be removed as it was installed on public property.
Homeowner Billy Riley told News24 the drastic action was taken after a number of property-related crimes took place in Dale Way.
“My bakkie was stolen twice,” he said, frustrated. “On a separate occasion, someone walked into the opposite guest house and helped themselves to items from the kitchen.”
The cases were reported to police, but their property was never retrieved.
When residents showed interest in having the gate installed 18 months ago, he wrote to an official referred to him by a neighbour to request permission, Riley said.
“I wrote five times, but no response was received. I recently learned that the specific official no longer worked for the council, but there was no indication to confirm that he was no longer employed there.”
'Safety was the main concern'
No complaints were received after the gate was installed until a photo was posted on a community Facebook page.
Three weeks ago, the City instructed Riley to remove it.
“They gave me a deadline of Tuesday July 14. On Friday July 10, I took my paperwork to the Parow council offices to submit it to the town planner. They refused to take my application,” Riley claimed.
He was ordered to remove the gate by Saturday July 18 “or I would be charged almost R100 000 for it to be taken down”.
Neighbours had no problems with the installation, Riley said, pointing out motorists and pedestrians, other than the residents and their guests, would not access the road as it is a dead end.
“Safety was the main concern for this move,” said Riley, who runs a place of safety for children from his home. “I don’t understand what the council’s issue with the gate is.”
But according to mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, public access to public roads “cannot be unilaterally curtailed or removed”.
“In order for this gate to be legalised, the residents would need to either lease or buy the land from the City. In this way, the road reserve becomes private property,” he explained.
“Further to this, the lease or purchase process would be subject to public consultation before any decision is made, namely the consent of the wider community would be necessary in order for this to be legalised.”
Residents have contacted the appropriate officials with a view to completing the application, Herron said.
“In assessing such applications, the City would have to consider whether there are any City services within the road reserve that the City needs to retain access to.
“Service delivery, like waste collection and water meter reading, can become problematic and require costly changes to allow the City to perform the service at the gate and pass the internal maintenance liability to the new owners.”
Hanif Loonat, the former Western Cape Community Policing Board chairperson, said installing gates to fence off communities were common in Johannesburg, but a “no-go” in Cape Town.
“In a sense it helps police as it is more difficult for crimes to be committed in cordoned off areas,” he said.
“Our force is under resourced - that is the reality. It cannot be a bad thing if it gives them one less area to focus on.”
But while “pro-active citizenship” should be applauded, it is “disappointing” when homeowners resorted to such drastic action in an attempt to protect themselves and their property, Loonat added.