Homes marooned in grime

Used to the presence of vagrants and the occasional muggings on Pietermaritz Street, shop owners in the vicinity of the retirement homes where three elderly people were murdered in three weeks in July, said on Wednesday they were shocked by the murders.

“I saw police vans the other day at the old age home,” said one shop owner.

The top end of Pietermaritz Street is always bustling.

Most of the dilapidated houses have been converted into spaza shops.

In the vicinity of the two retirement homes is a taxi rank, a few shisanyamas, a TVET college, a recycling depot and a few other businesses.

A shop owner, who asked not to be named, said some parts of the street had been left neglected, adding that there had been an increase in the number of vagrants loitering around the street.

“However, crime is not bad around here. You get a few cases of mugging now and then, but not murder. This is shocking. I do not know why they would do such a thing to old people. I am sure the old people would not resist when they are robbed,” said the shop owner.

A taxi operator at a nearby taxi rank in West Street, Mbuso Zuma, said they were worried about the safety of their customers.

“Some of our passengers work in these flats along this street and they walk to the taxi rank. The problem with this area is that it is too busy,” he said.

A resident in the area, said crime was the least of their problems.

“I have been living here for two years without any problems. I walk every day to work with no issues,” she said.

The manager at Kenwyn residence, who asked to remain unnamed, said they had upgraded their security following the spate of break-ins and the three murders, the first of which was at Kenwyn.

“We’ve got extra security guards. We’ve put up more razor wire and we have welded the windows.

“We are also in the process of putting in burglar guards and we are keeping strict control on the beams that surround the building. We have also put broken glass into the concrete on the wall that joins the vacant land next to us.”

She said the murders had left the residents terrified for their safety.

“We have been in contact with the residents all the time and informing them of all the security measures. The police also come and visit us every morning.”

Brian Lodge, the chairperson of Jacaranda Lodge, where two murders took place in residents’ flats in the middle of the night, reiterated that they had also hired extra security guards for night patrols.