Bridge squatters cause headaches for residents

Squatters who were living under this bridge in Hout Bay have been removed by City law enforcement, but residents fear it is only a matter of time before they return.

Squatters living under a Hout Bay bridge have been removed by the City law enforcement, but residents fear it is only a matter of time before they are back.

Residents said the squatters under the Bavianskloof Bridge in Bavianskloof Road had caused a disturbance – fighting and swearing throughout the night and there had been frequent clashes with joggers and hikers.

A woman living nearby, who did not want to give her name for safety reasons, said she had reported the matter to the City when she had noticed more people, including children living under the bridge.

“I was not sure of where all the people were coming from, but they had children with them and also were going to fetch more people.”

There would be “massive drinking parties” at night, leading to drunken brawls and other anti-social behaviour, she said.

“Glass bottles breaking, people chasing each other, screaming and swearing. It’s horrible and cannot be allowed.”

Another Hout Bay resident, Samantha Toiker, uses the pathway close to the site for jogging and she said the squatters were “dangerous and rude” and her dog had nearly been attacked by their dog.

“They use such foul language and abusive terms toward women. Also, people’s animals always get rushed by their dog, who is never on a leash. I have heard many people complaining about this.”

She also lodged complaints with the City and called for their removal and preventative measures.

“The City has been here before and they keep coming back. The City again removed the lot of people, including all their belongings, but the question remains, for how long?” Ms Toiker said.

There was no sign of the squatters when the Sentinel News visited the site.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said that if the squatters returned, the City would continue to offer them assistance and shelter.

“The social workers have offered assistance with moving them to shelters, which has been refused,” he said.

According to Mr Quintas, it is believed the squatters are from Hangberg but left there due to “social and other issues”.

“Our enforcement agencies have also addressed the rough sleepers, as there have been instances of fires, dumping and antisocial behaviour. After these engagements, the group has moved on, and we will continue to try assist them where we find them with offers of rehabilitation, re-integration and shelter accommodation,” he said.

There were no plans to fence the site at this stage, he said.