Thieves target Strand Cemetery fence

Parts of the fencing at Strand Cemetery has been stolen, leaving graves open and exposed.

Thieves have started targeting the fencing around the Strand Cemetery, removing, and stealing parts of the palisade fence resulting in a gap in the palisade fencing in Hofmeyer Street in Strand.

Cindy Beukes, a concerned resident from Strand, said about this theft and vandalism: “I see it and it really is horrible and as a sign of no respect for the dead being done by heartless people.”

“Something drastic has to be done to stop this wrongful act of theft at our cemeteries which seems like it has become a habit,” Mrs Beukes said.

According to Carl Gersbach, vice-chairman of the Strand Neighbourhood Watch (SNW), they are aware of the theft and vandalism at the Strand Cemetery, and this is an issue which they have reported to the City of Cape Town numerous times.

Mr Gersbach alerted to the fact that there are so many illegal activities happening in this area. “There is always suspicious activity in that area; prostitution, drug usage and selling, vagrants sleeping there and making a toilet of the area,” all factors he believes contributes to the issue of the crime happening in this area. He recalled how members of the Neighbourhood watch came close to catching brazen thieves stealing sections of the palisade fence in the early hours of the morning on Thursday May 6, at 04:15 when these two male suspects loaded the fencing on the back of their bakkie and sped away before they could be apprehended. He suggested the City weld the fencing as underhanded thieves easily unbolts the bolts and nuts it during the day and comes back to steal it at night.

According to Mr Gersbach they have seen an increase in the theft and vandalism of public properties and facilities in Strand. “The Strand Netball Facility is completely destroyed, the whole fence was stolen, and the interior part of the building stripped and looted of everything, the windows, doors, wires, fittings, etc,” he detailed the extreme degree of the theft occurring at these local public facilities.

Bolander enquired from the City of Cape Town about the theft of fencing at the Strand Cemetery and whether City authorities are aware of it.

In a response, Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member community services and health, confirmed the City’s knowledge of the incidents at the cemetery and revealed the City’s plan of action to address this matter, especially around efforts to increase policing of this area. “We have reported the matter to the local South African Police Service, noting the cemetery as a theft hotspot and have requested that they do frequent patrols. We will also request that the City’s Law Enforcement unit assist with frequent patrols and visibility at all cemeteries in the area,” he said.

Mr Badroodien furthermore provided additional information on the City’s plans to curb the theft at the cemetery by upgrading current security measures. “Funding for night security has been requested for the next financial year, as it is alleged that the theft occurred at night. We are also looking at the possibility of installing lights to improve visibility at night,” Mr Badroodien said.

Mr Badroodien assured Bolander the stolen fencing would be replaced and said the City is in the process of getting a quote from the fencing vendor to proceed with the process. He further urged members of the community to report any signs of wrongdoing. “We appeal to residents to report incidents of general vandalism and or theft as soon as possible, so that corrective action can be taken.”

He instructed the public to report any incidents at the South African Police Service or at the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre on 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.