Overgrown area at Galeshewe Library and RC Elliot Hall has become a haven for criminals.
RESIDENTS of ward 7 in Kimberley have taken it upon themselves to clean up the overgrown area around the Galeshewe Library and RC Elliot Hall, which has been a haven for criminals over the past three years.
The clean-up campaign, dubbed ‘Thuma Mina Cleaning Programme’, was started by the local ward councillor, John ‘Valdez’ Diphahe, after numerous complaints were received about crime in the area and that women were at risk of being dragged into the overgrown yard and raped.
Criminals have reportedly used the dilapidated buildings as a hideout and have also attacked people in the area when they go to work in the morning.
The RC Elliot Hall has been left unattended since 2018 when it was torched during the Kimberley shutdown protests.
The community library started falling prey to burglaries as criminals gained entry through the hall side of the building.
Diphahe said that many robberies and attempted rape incidents have been reported around the RC Elliot Hall.
According to Diphahe, the two buildings are now a haven for the criminals.
He said that community members have been working with the police since the launch of the clean-up campaign on Tuesday, and that already some wanted suspects have been arrested on the premises by the police.
“We learnt that there is a budget to fix both buildings but we do not know what the delay is,” said Diphahe. “Meanwhile our community continues to fall prey because of the dilapidated buildings.
“It becomes difficult for the victims to identify the criminals because of the wearing of masks due to Covid-19,” added Diphahe.
He added that they have “roped” in other stakeholders, such as the EPWP through the help of Sol Plaatje Municipality, and that the police have also started to patrol the area.
There is a hope that the campaign can be extended to other areas in the city.
Diphahe also expressed a wish for managers and councillors at the municipality to start working together to address serious service delivery challenges that affect the lives of the community.
Diphahe pointed out that most of the people involved in the programme are volunteers.
He said that food donations would be much appreciated.
Local residents have praised the programme.
They said that the area around the RC Elliot Hall had become a no-go area due to criminals, and that things had become so bad that they had welcomed the implementation of the nightly Covid-19 curfew.