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Monday Nov 04, 2013

No answer on Tshwane's gated communities

Gated communities need to move away from only worrying about crime in their neighbourhoods, but look at broader issues that affect the city.

Speaking at the annual meeting of Lynnwood Glen Estate at the weekend, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the city supported gated communities but cautioned against them only concentrating on crime.

Ramokgopa said it was up to the council to decide whether to lift the city's moratorium on granting permission for communities to erect gates for access control.

'Right now, your biggest concern is crime. We hope that in future there will be other issues that you as a community can be interested in,' he said.

Lynnwood Glen Estate chairman Altus van Heerden said: 'Before we were a gated community there were five murders every seven years. Now, we have one incident every eight months and there are no violent crimes.'

In the past year there were only two attempted break-ins and six break-ins, he said. 'There was also one serious domestic violence incident with guns and the people were arrested. The break-ins also happened outside our perimeter fence.'

Van Heerden said there were 211 paying members in Lynnwood Glen Estate and access to the area is restricted. There are cameras and guards at the gate and residents use a biometric system to enter. Nonresidents are required to sign in.

Ramokgopa assured residents that the city was willing to work with gated communities in the fight against crime. 'By the end of the month we will appoint a service provider who will roll out CCTV cameras across the city. The focus will now be on the east of the city. We will also have 10 metro police officers in each ward. We're recruiting about 2 000 more officers.'

Brooklyn police station's Constable Greg Dodgen agreed that serious crimes had gone down in the area. 'Armed robberies have dropped. The trend is also seen in neighbouring communities.

'Most of the crime that is reported is socio-economic. If a beggar is hungry, he will mug you so he can get something to eat. Crime is not always about greed, but sometimes the need to eat.' 'In 2055, the three Gauteng metros - Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg - will not be able to accommodate all their residents. The metros are expected to grow by 6 million people. There is rapid globalisation and the bigger government agenda is to look into jobs,' Ramokgopa said.

'We have a youthful population, with 65 percent of Tshwane residents being 35 and younger. The majority of them are unskilled. We have to look into ways that we can accommodate the people into our city,' he said.

Meanwhile, van Heerden said they were still waiting for the city to approve their remaining gated community in the next two years.

While the Lynnwood Glen community is unsure whether the application will be renewed, the Constantia Glen Security Village is unhappy that it has taken 12 years and R3 million to fight for approval. The community's Peter de Beer handed over a memorandum to Ramokgopa, who said there was a moratorium on granting gated communities permission, mainly because of traffic constraints.

'We are 1 000 households and we have done traffic studies and no main road will be affected by our closures,' De Beer said. 'Why has there been a moratorium for 10 years? It does not make sense.

'There have been communities that have resorted to illegal closures but we decided not to do that.

'We had to go to the Pretoria High Court after a violent incident and were granted an order to close (access). We are busy with that now,' De Beer said.

The relationship between the city and gated communities has not always been a good one.

In 2010, a 10 percent rise in application fees for gated communities infuriated a number of residents' associations. Fees went up from R6 000 an application to between R11 000 and R56 000, depending on the number of houses in the area.

In another case, Eldoraigne Extension 18, Wierda Park Extension 2 and Lynnwood Glen were granted temporary permission for access control. They had turned to the courts after they had struggled for seven years to obtain permission from the city council to gate their areas. From 2006 to 2009, 10 armed robberies, 27 attempted armed robberies and 46 housebreakings were reported in Eldoraigne Extension 18, Wierda Park Extension 2 and Lynnwood Glen.

Pretoria News

    
 

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