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Wednesday Nov 23, 2016

Brooklyn gets permission to put up gates

After a fierce battle lasting more than four years, the residents of Brooklyn in Tshwane finally have permission to implement road closures and make their area a gated community.

Residents of Brooklyn finally have permission to erect booms.

Having been subjected to an onslaught of violent crimes over the years, the residents applied to the City of Tshwane for permission to join other gated communities in and around the capital.

The protracted battle with the city started in 2012 and eventually went to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on various occasions.

This week, Judge Neil Tuchten suggested the parties should try to find common ground.

The matter was at last settled on the basis that the city would again consider its decision of not granting permission for a gated community.

But the residents were in the interim allowed to install booms in area, pending the finalisation of the matter.

Judge Tuchten described the handling of the matter over the years by the city as "deplorable" and slapped it with a punitive costs order.

Werner Bornman, chairman of the Brooklyn Security Village, said they were still to decide on the way forward, but at this stage would erect booms before deciding on a more permanent structure.

It was explained by the legal team for the security village that they had been plagued by crimes such as armed robberies over the years. These were mostly committed by way of vehicular access.

The court heard that the restriction of access did not mean that an area had the right to prevent the freedom of movement, but rather to focus on the monitoring of people.

If an incident did occur, it could be reported and the community could close down the gates, preventing the suspects from escaping.

Fed-up with the crime in their area, the residents applied to the city for permission for road closure and paid a mandatory R50 000 fee in that regard.

Their application was not considered and the residents held countless meeting with city officials.

The city's tribunal eventually referred the matter back to the residents for more information on what they had done to try to curb crime themselves.

Tshwane cited that when an application was submitted, it was circulated internally and external engagement, with SAPS for instance, was required. It was thus not able to take a decision unless, and until, all relevant information which was dependent on the applicant had been received.

The city further stated at the time that it was tasked to keep open all roads, parks and other public infrastructure for the use and benefit of the community.

The intention of "restriction of access" would limit access and control access to public infrastructure that was paid and funded from public funds, it stated.

In December, 2014, still under siege from violent crime in the area, the residents turned to the court.

The city was ordered to within two months consider the application for a gated community by the residents.

In May last year, the city refused the road closures without hearing the submissions from the residents.

The residents returned to court asking that the refusal be overturned. This application was yet again opposed by the city until Judge Tuchten ordered the parties to try to find common ground.

Tshwane putting its foot down all these years had cost the ratepayers a lot in legal fees, and Gary Duke, attorney appearing for the residents, said this was a monumental waste of time and money.

He said this was in addition to the damage done to those residents who suffered at the hands of criminals.

During 2012, there were five armed robberies in the area and 13 house break-ins, apart from petty crimes. When the application was eventually submitted to the city in November 2012, there were a further 20 incidents of crime. This escalated over the years.

Jan Malan, of Residents Against Crime, expressed shock at the fee charged by the city for road closure applications. While the fee by Tshwane was R50000, the City of Joburg charged in the region of R10000, he said.

Pretoria News

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