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Notorious crime den cleared out

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Notorious crime den cleared out

by Melissa Papier
12 Dec 2006
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Police evicted the illegal occupants of a known crime haven in Beverly Street, Athlone last week after a court order was issued to have the people moved out.

The owner, who bought the house in September last year, has been struggling to get the illegal occupants to vacate the premises.

Owner Ardiel Ameeroedien says he gave the occupants several months to vacate but they refused to leave.

"I have even been threatened several times by the illegal occupants, but all I want is to have my place back. I want to restore it into a decent home," he says.

The house is one of many houses in the area that have been monitored by the Athlone Police for criminal activities. Captain André Venter, media spokesperson at the station, says numerous complaints were lodged about activities at the house before the eviction.

"There have been many raids, but every time we went back to the place we saw new dwellers on the premises.

"The house was known for its criminal activities, and recently there was a drive-by shooting in which three people were killed. Drug peddling, illegal sale of alcohol and prostitution were taking place and the house was a haven for criminals who generated crime in the Athlone CBD," Venter says.

When the house was searched during the eviction action, no drugs were found except a dagga tree.

There were also empty wallets and weapons used in crimes, such as knives.

The eviction process was fast-tracked by petitions from concerned residents, business owners in the Athlone CBD and the Health Department.

Ward 49 Councillor Charlotte Tabisher says the Health Department was called in to investigate after a three-year-old girl was found unattended and undernourished in the house.

"An inspection was undertaken and it was determined that the house was a health risk for the child, other occupants and the community," said Tabisher.

The Athlone Police Station Commander, Director Anand Pillay, says the local SAPS have a no-nonsense policy when it comes to criminal activities.

Says Pillay, "We won't tolerate illegal activities and any other house causing the same problems will be subject to the same process.

"These sort of places influence the community and the surrounding areas negatively and we need to uproot these elements to claim back our neighbourhood again."

According to Venter, this is just the start of a number of similar operations that will take place to eradicate crime in the area.

"We are closely monitoring other houses where criminal activities are taking place and we will be clamping down," he says.

Venter called on the community and other property owners in a similar predicament to come forward and assist the police to get rid the area of these sort of criminal dens. Meanwhile, the auction of a house in Rose Street, Kewtown has been put on hold.

Athlone Police recently served a final notice to the owners of the shebeen, known as "Anton's Place".

The Asset Forfeiture Unit was called in to seize their assets but the owners are in the process of appealing the High Court order. The outcome of the appeal is still pending.

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