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Thursday Feb 27, 2014

Pretoria street abandoned by improvement district

Pretoria's infamous Brown Street, a known haven for drug dealers and vagrants, has been abandoned by the City Improvement District (CID) because of a lack of funds and less involvement by business owners in the street and other law enforcement entities in the city.

Pretoria's Brown Street.

The CID's withdrawal has led to the deterioration of the small street, which runs parallel to Struben and Bloed streets between Sisulu (Prinsloo) and Lilian Ngoyi (Van der Walt) streets.

As has been the case on and off for years, vagrants sleep on the corner of Sisulu and Brown streets where they also leave their belongings during the day.

Piles of litter and rubble line the street and unregulated traffic and pedestrians pass through the street.

Templeton Ngonyama, of the CID, told the Pretoria News yesterday the company was no longer involved in 'containing' the area.

He said it had no choice but to withdraw because of a lack of funding for its clean-up efforts.

According to the CID's Piet du Toit, business and property owners in the street were not willing to pay for 24-hour security.

'It is difficult to monitor and contain the area without financial support. We were forced to withdraw our services because the manpower we provided costs money,' Ngonyama said.

When the Tshwane metro police department (TMPD) and CID worked together to clean up the street in November, successes.

A spaza shop was closed down for not complying with health and safety regulations, fines were issued to unlicensed businesses, and illegal electricity connections were disconnected.

In addition, a number of illegal immigrants and drug dealers were arrested.

When the clean-up operations were in full swing, the street was barricaded to stop taxis from parking in the street and obscuring the view of the CCTV cameras.

When the Pretoria News visited Brown Street in November, members of the CID were stationed at the Sisulu Street entrance to control vehicle access.

At the time, only business owners were allowed to park in the street.

Pedestrians were allowed to walk through the barricaded street but were searched if they looked suspicious.

Now pedestrians and motorists move freely in and out of the street and taxis block the Lilian Ngoyi Street entrance despite the barricades.

'It is critical to attend to the problems on the street, but we cannot do so without funds,' Ngonyama added.

Du Toit said the only way to curb criminal activity and clean up the street would be to redevelop the area. He added that there were plans to improve the infrastructure.

Pretoria Central police spokeswoman Sergeant Ann Poortman said the street fell within their jurisdiction, and undercover officers policed the area on foot.

'The clean-up of litter and waste is not our responsibility but that of the TMPD,' she said.

Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said he was waiting for responses from various municipal departments before he could respond to questions. Twitter: @LalivZ

Pretoria News


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