Hill a crime hot spot

School principals and residents and neighbours of Beacon Hill Dune, bordered by Metropolitan Street in Beacon Valley, say it is a crime hot spot and it must go.

Beacon Hill High School principal Greg Kannemeyer told the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday June 5, that pupils’ lives were at risk.

“Gangsters sit there all day plotting. It is where they shoot from; they hide there and they harass pupils,” he said.

Mr Kannemeyer said just last week shots were fired. He said there had been meetings to get rid of the dunes but nothing had been done to show that the community’s lives should be taken seriously and that action be taken against gangsterism in the area.

“There had been talk that the dune would be removed and a sport facility could be built.

“Something more positive needs to be done to keep the community busy because the Beacon Valley community has nothing,” he said.

“The hill is a hot spot for the wrong activities happening here and something must start sooner rather than later,” he said.

Mr Kannemeyer said when the police and law enforcement come, the gangsters know and can see them coming.

Edna Hockey, Beacon View Primary School principal, said gangsters hiding on the hill had been an ongoing problem for many years.

“They interfere with our learners during interval,” she said.

Ms Hockey said they called the police on two occasions, when they found the body of a teenager in 2016 and when a massive fire was started early last year.

She said a fence was being erected around the school now but gangsters would lean against the school’s walls and blow their smoke into the classrooms. “They smoke weed and it has a terrible smell,” she said.

Ms Hockey said some of the gangsters were possibly ex-pupils and that they did not usually interrupt school activities but that shooting and gang violence in the area were rife at night.

Imperial Primary School principal Colin Baron said the dune affected the natural vegetation of the school.

“We tried to grow our lawn at the back of the school but the sand blowing from the hill often chokes our efforts,” he
said.

Mr Baron said about three years ago traffic to the hill increased and initially they welcomed it because it created an idea that there were always some eyes on the school.

He said, however, the hill had become a hideout for all sorts of unsavoury characters, which had parents and pupils up in arms.

“Pupils are afraid to come to school since the activities of the hill now cascades to the surrounding areas. The activities are clearly of a territorial nature, so much so that it has become a lookout point,” he said.

He said the school had always taken the role as agents of social development serious.

“We must admit that the effects of these activities are now starting to impede on our core function of education, and subsequently developing holistic pupils.”

Mr Baron said they hoped that the public participation of a couple of years ago would be revisited, and that one of the proposals, the construction of a Further Education and Training (FET) College surrounded by low cost housing or a sporting hub including an athletics track, would see the light.

“We are willing to work with any and all stakeholders to materialise a Beacon Valley where all children enjoy the same freedoms as their peers in other suburbs,” he said.

On Friday June 1, as the Plainsman pulled up at the foot of the dune, in Metropolitan Street, a person got out of a car, ran up the hill and a minute later returned to their car. The interaction looked like a drug deal.

When the Plainsman reporter got to the top of the hill, a youngster said a known gangster should be contacted for comment.

Martin Choffinal, 41, who has been living in a makeshift dwelling of plastic and wood on top of the dune, said no one must take his view of Mitchell’s Plain away from him.

Mr Choffinal said there were two other families living on the hill. “Ek het hier kom bly want daar was probleme by die huis,” he said.

Edward Beesley, who lives with his girlfriend and two children on the hill, said they were doing the best they could.

Mr Beesley also had a situation at home, where the family members were disputing the ownership of the family house.

“Die kinders gaan skool toe en ek werk twee keer ‘* week,” he said.

Percy Morokane, spokesman for landowner, Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC Limited, said there had been no meeting scheduled with the City of Cape Town to raise the community’s concern, of criminal activities on the dune but they intend to do now that concerns have been raised.

“The land was used for aeronautical navigation purposes, however, the beacon utilised for the services has since been decommissioned and the property remains unutilised,” he said.

Mr Morokane said they had met with Maccsand representatives on January 12 last year and their interest to mine sand on the 2.67 hectare property was discussed at length.

A lease agreement was proposed but nothing had been signed.

“The offer to rent out the premises to Maccsand still stands,” he said.

The Plainsman asked ATNS what its vision was for the land. Mr Morokane said they may sell the premises, surrender the premises to the municipality and transfer ownership or rent it out, the latter is the most feasible option.

“However, the ATNS Board will ultimately have to make the final decision,” he said.