GEORGE - Vagrants squatting along the length Morris Street, from the Total Courtney Garage to the end of the cul de sac, have residents at their wits' end. In an article last week George Herald reported on the matter, which highlighted the problems associated with the congregation of homeless people in public places.
One of the residents living in a flat behind the George Police Station complained that vagrants are scavenging weekly through the garbage, leaving a mess, and using the electricity box and lawn in front of the Annandale and Greeff flats as a toilet.
On the other side of town, the owner of a scrap yard is very concerned about the two small squatter houses that sprouted on municipal grounds at the back of his property in Brick Street, George Industria.
Municipal communications officer Athane Scholtz said both these areas are on the municipality's hotspot list. "[They] are visited regularly and challenges regarding homeless people are addressed throughout," said Scholtz. "Please note that the legislated right to free movement of persons applies and cannot be limited by law enforcement (except in legislated situations/disaster as per Covid lockdown last year)."
Scholtz said their division for anti-land invasion is well aware of the individuals in Brick Street and does visit the area. "Regular action is being taken to manage the situation," she said.
According to Christo Muller of Christo's Motor Scrap Yard, the municipal law enforcement officers have expressed their fear of the squatters' dogs which they believe will have a go at them should they investigate the matter.
"First one house appeared - now there are two. What's next?" he asked, referring to the two small blue dwellings erected between the bushes on a field behind his scrap yard. Scholtz commented that the presence of vicious dogs will not prevent the unit from acting and, if necessary, the SPCA and police will be called to assist.
Scholtz said circumstances have also not changed regarding the woman who has been living on the privately owned property with the permission of the owners for decades.
"The site has recently been cleared of bushy vegetation in the hope that the lack of shelter would be less appealing to the homeless. An illegal dumping site at the edge of the property is being cleaned up," said Scholtz.
• Should people litter or illegally dump waste while rummaging in refuse bags, the incidents can be reported to the municipality's
Law Enforcement section on 044 801 6350. Mobile phone photographs will help such investigations. Illegal occupancy can be reported to 044 801 6310. Suspected criminal activity must be reported to the police.
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