South Shore hedge ‘a hide-out for vagrants’

The distance between the hedge and the fence.

A lush hedge growing in front of a Fish Hoek housing complex has become a thorn in the side of one of its residents.

The hedge, which according to one of the trustees, is intended to be a buffer against traffic noise and wind, has become a hiding place for drug addicts and vagrants according to South Shore resident, Leigh Palmer.

The hedge forms the border of South Shore and a piece of City-owned land opposite the Fish Hoek police station.

Mr Palmer’s upstairs bedroom window overlooks the hedge and he said he witnessed people using drugs, fornication, drinking and defecating behind the hedge almost on a daily basis.

He said the vagrants and drug dealers bought drugs elsewhere and would then use the space between the hedge and the fence to “do their business”.

He said the City of Cape Town could not help him as they claimed that while the property belonged to them, the trustees and body corporate were responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of it.

“I have spoken to some of the trustees on various occasions to get the area properly cleared. Much of what is growing there is Chrisanthemoides, which although not a weed, is self-seeding and invasive. The most logical solution would be to remove the hedge,” he said.

Engaging with the trustees, he said, had not yielded any results as they didn’t seem to comprehend the scale of the problem.

But chairperson of the South Shore trustees, Bryony Whitehead said Mr Palmer was exaggerating the severity of the situation.

She said that while there were some problems with vagrants, it was not continuous and was not a daily or even a weekly occurrence.

The hedge in question, she said, did not cover the window of his apartment and the vegetation in that area was trimmed on a regular basis. She said trustee Chris Burt had been monitoring the area and if any vagrants were spotted, he contacted their security company and they were removed promptly. He also regularly collected rubbish left behind by vagrants, she said.

Ms Whitehead said the hedge was kept back from the boundary wall to enable them to monitor vagrant movement and act accordingly.

The hedge, she said, also provided the apartments with privacy and creepers could not be planted to cover the fencing as it needed to be maintained and painted and the electric fencing would be affected by creepers.

She said as Mr Palmer’s complaint had been the only one received, the trustees felt they did not have to remove the hedge as requested by him.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien confirmed that the property was owned by the City but the trustees were responsible for the maintenance.

He said the City’s Recreation and Parks Department would set up an urgent meeting with the Trustees of both the North and South Shore complexes to address this matter and to determine a way forward.

Dr Badroodien said the department of social development had earlier offered social assistance to vagrants in the area which was not accepted well.

“Officials from the department have been threatened and physically attacked which resulted in the officials’ pulling out of the area due to safety concerns,” he said.

Fish Hoek Police spokesman, Warrant Officer Peter Middleton said no complaints about the matter had been received. However, he said, it was likely that drug dealing was taking place in the area if vagrants were using the hedges to use drugs.

He said the matter will be looked into by the police and law enforcement.