Helenvale a living hell for residents — Steenhuisen

BROKEN CITY: DA interim leader John Steenhuisen visits the IPTS bus depot in Bethelsdorp. He peers through a broken window of a bus damaged on November 5 in the northern areas
BROKEN CITY: DA interim leader John Steenhuisen visits the IPTS bus depot in Bethelsdorp. He peers through a broken window of a bus damaged on November 5 in the northern areas
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

On a mission to rebuild the DA, the party’s interim leader, John Steenhuisen, canvassed for votes in Helenvale, saying the DA cared about the “forgotten people” of the northern areas.

An hour before his public meeting in Anita Drive, a 61-year-old man was shot in the same street — driving home Steenhuisen’s message that crime was out of control in the area.

The man was shot in Anita Drive at about 10am, with a suspect arrested shortly after the shooting in a nearby street.

Addressing a crowd of about 70 people, Steenhuisen said: “Life has not got better for the people here in the last 25 years.”

He said gangsters should not be roaming the streets, but should be sitting in jail.

“They continue making the lives of community members a living hell.”

Steenhuisen called on residents to give the DA a majority of the vote in the 2021 Local Government Elections to govern Nelson Mandela Bay.

“We have a chance to kill that snake that is [mayor Mongameli] Bobani in the upcoming elections and the only way to do it is with the ballot paper.

“You can’t trust him with your future and that of your children.

“The only way to bring change in Helenvale is with a huge win for the DA.”

He said the current government had forgotten about the people of the northern areas.

“We need change and we are going to save the Bay,” he said.

CONSTANT THREAT: A bullet casing found by police after a 61-year-old man was shot in the back in Helenvale on Tuesday
CONSTANT THREAT: A bullet casing found by police after a 61-year-old man was shot in the back in Helenvale on Tuesday
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed the shooting but declined to reveal the man’s identity.

“Gelvandale police attended to a report of a shooting.

“A man was found with a gunshot wound in his back.

“It is further alleged that the suspect was firing in the street,” she said.

Naidu said while police were on the scene more gunshots were heard from nearby Reynecke Street.

“The police rushed towards the direction of the shots and arrested the teenager, with a 9mm firearm confiscated.”

She said the firearm had been reported stolen in a house robbery in Kabega Park in 2017.

“The motive for the shooting is yet to be established.”

Before Steenhuisen spoke, DA provincial leader Nqaba Bhanga said the shooting revealed the reality of what people of the northern areas faced daily.

“We send children to school to get a matric certificate and instead they get a death certificate in the northern areas,” he said.

Banga said it was not normal for children to live in constant fear.

“They have never tasted a safe environment. We have a government that does not care.”

He said the contract for Shot Spotter was cancelled recently by the municipality.

The gunshot detection technology immediately notifies nearby law enforcement of gunshots in a specific area, so police can be dispatched to the exact location.

“They don’t care about the lives of our people,” he said.

Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said claims that the Shot Spotter contract was cancelled were untrue.

He said a pilot project was introduced free of charge for the municipality for a certain period.

“It was therefore never cancelled. During the pilot phase the benefits of the technology as a tool for law enforcement became clear. We are therefore keen to have Shot spotter on a permanent basis,” he said.He said a tender had been issued.

Earlier, Steenhuisen visited the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) bus depot in Bethelsdorp where he found that some of the buses were being propped up on wheel rims.

“Hi-tech, quality jacks you guys are using,” Steenhuisen told a group of mechanics.

One of the mechanics, Richard Goliath, told Steenhuisen they were forced to work with limited tools and often had to be creative to fix the buses.

Steenhuisen asked Goliath if he was using parts from the broken buses to fix some of the others.

“Yes, what choice do we have?” Goliath replied.

Goliath said other issues were that the mechanics were never paid on time.

“We are not getting our wages which puts us back every month.

“I have expenses.

“I am very disappointed.

“The municipal officials never come here.

“We then bite the heads off our management but they are doing their job.”

Spectrum Alert CEO Trevor Harper said his main gripe was also the municipality not paying on time.

“This means we can’t pay wages and repair the buses.

“Sometimes we can’t even buy fuel,” Harper said.

He said in the past he had bought fuel for the buses using his own credit card.

Addressing the media, Steenhuisen said: “What we see here epitomises what is wrong with Nelson Mandela Bay — a huge project just competently abandoned and damaged.”

He said the buses left idle in the yard perpetuated inequality.

“It was a great project linking poor communities with economic advances.

“The biggest victims in this is poor South Africans.

“This city should hang itself in shame.

“Once again corruption has been put ahead of the people of the Bay.”

Steenhuisen said the national and provincial government needed to intervene.

“They need to take control of this city,” he said.

Steenhuisen said they had established a task team to ensure the plight of the poor in the Bay were heard in parliament.

“We need to put the national government on turns.

“It is time for people to stand up.”

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