Dear Community of Sunninghill,
We write to you out of concern and sheer frustration at what is becoming a huge problem in Sunninghill. We also write to you appealing for help, including those businesses and residents who are not members of the Ratepayers Association and do not contribute towards the work we do in Sunninghill.
We have for many years had a problem with squatters in Sunninghill, specifically along the Sandspruit River between Sunninghill and Paulshof. We have however, in the past with the assistance of Region A JMPD and Sandton Saps managed to keep this problem under control. This however is no longer the case.
- The K60 (van der Bjil) road reserve. The number of squatters here are increasing on both (un-developed) ends of this road reserve. This is a provincial road reserve
- The Sandspruit river area which runs between Paulshof and Sunninghill, from Leeukop Prison through to Witkoppen Road. Here too the numbers are increasing. This land belongs to the City of Johannesburg.
- Erf 513/2 IR Rietfontein, right in the middle of the Sunninghill business district, which borders on a residential complex, the Sunninghill Hospital and some business office parks. This land belongs to the City of Johannesburg. We received information that squatters have moved in here to.
Sunninghill Community has and always has had a policy of working with the authorities to address problem as we have always felt that by working together one solves more and achieves more and this has always worked for us in the past. Our security operations with JMPD, Sandton Saps with the assistance of our Security Provider Savika is however no longer enough. To solve the problem, greenbelt operations need to be performed at least once weekly until the problem is resolved; this however is not happening and once an operation takes place the squatters return within two days. We have done everything in our power to address this, however we cannot break the law ourselves and as security companies do not have the power or authority legally to tackle problems like this, our hands are somewhat tied.
The result of the escalation of the above problem is:
- Employees in Sunninghill being mugged on their way to and from work
- Commuters using the Gautrain bus service being mugged on their way home after being dropped off at the Gautrain bus stop in Rivonia Road ext.
- The traffic lights in Rivonia Road ext being almost permanently “out” due to cable theft. We find signs of the stripped cables when doing greenbelt operations with the JMPD. This is causing huge traffic congestion and some motor vehicle accidents along this road.
- An increase in house breakings in complexes in close proximity to the squatter areas. These criminals we know are on foot and only take items they can carry.
- Gun shots reported from the river area between Sunninghill and Paulshof.
Is to clear these areas. The areas mentioned are far too easy for squatters to hide in. The road reserves, river area and Erf 513/2 are heavily overgrown. We know that should they be cleared of the dense vegetation and rubble that the squatters use to sleep in and under, they will be less attractive for squatters. Recently a resident in Sunninghill, at her own cost, with some assistance from residents of Badger Park, hired a company to thin back an area of the K73 road reserve where squatters used to live. As a result of being able to see into this area, the squatters are gone and have been for some time now.
We appealed to Council Region A and Province for assistance with the above, we have appealed to them to take responsibility for their land. A response has been received from Region A, who we fall under and we will be doing a site inspection of all undeveloped greenbelt areas in Sunninghill that belong to them next week. After this inspection discussions will be held with Region A as to the way forward. We so far have not received a response from Province, however we will continue to pursue this until we do. Sunninghill Community will of course keep you in the loop as to progress made. Not only do we want to clear these areas, but, we will be actively investigating the possibility of turning the river area into an area that residents can enjoy on a permanent basis, including of course security to make it safe to enjoy. Residents in Sunninghill Park do not have any park land to enjoy.
Once we have completed our discussions with Council, we will be putting together plans for this area, including a business plan on being able to sustain the work done and expand on it. At this time we will call on volunteers from our community who would like to be involved in such a project and will in most likelihood start an environmental fund/account where we hope to persuade residents and businesses, both members and non-member to make monthly contributions towards. The money that goes into this fund will be used to sustain and improve this park / river area for all to use and enjoy. It truly is a nightmare at present but in actual fact could become the jewel of Sunninghill.
Any ideas and suggestions in the interim would be welcome and we will come back to you once we have had our discussions with Council.
SUNNINGHILL COMMUNITY RATEPAYERS ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE