People using council-owned property for the sale of drugs and liquor are in for a rude awakening - the city plans to evict them in a bid to crack down on illegal activity.
Earlier this year, local government, in conjunction with the provincial government, set up a task team to identify a list of known properties that are being used to contravene the law. The team met on Thursday, 16 November to discuss progress on their eviction plans.
"The Mayor, Helen Zille, and the provincial Safety and Security MEC, Leonard Ramatlakane, met to compare lists that both the provincial government and local council has drawn up," says Councillor JP Smith, chairperson of the city's Safety and Security Portfolio Committee.
The outcome of the meeting led to a plan of action to deal with the offenders.
"We would like to start issuing warning letters within the next month. Residents will then have a chance to reply and if they do not comply with the Rental Policy, we will take action to evict them," says Smith.
The first evictions are set to take place in early January next year.
"The Department of Community Safety has also provided a list of particularly bad spots and we will make every effort to push through the evictions of these high flyers."
Although the number of houses listed in the Hanover Park area - which is experiencing an upsurge in drug-related violence - could not be confirmed at the time of going to press, Smith says some Hanover Park properties did feature prominently on the list.
Commenting on the progress, Philippi Police spokesperson Superintendent Llewellyn Kleinhans says the Philippi Police welcome the move.
"We have collected information about known hot spots for the last two years and have been asking them to do something for a long time. This will vindicate the work that the police and the community does and will surely make inroads into the current gang violence that has flared in the area," he told People's Post.
Responding to Kleinhans' remarks, Smith says that although the procedure was stalled due to political interference from various parties, it will now be running full steam ahead.
"Provincial government has been pushing the city to take action since 2004 but the process has been stalled due to political in-fighting. This time around I have written to the Chief Whips and the Speaker to ask them to inform councillors that the plans are in the pipeline and action will be taken against any councillor who tries to hinder it."
He adds that the city might also have to re-assess the Rental Policy as it too may give residents legal recourse.The Rental Policy as it stands limits evictions and we might need to amend it to make things easier.
"This does not mean that anyone and everyone will be evicted. Instead, the 100 worst spots in the province, that police can prove are busy with illegal activities, will be targeted because they are enemies of their communities," says Smith.
The Hanover Park Community Policing Forum has welcomed the move. "Although they should have acted a long time ago, we welcome the move," says a CPF spokesperson who declined to be named.
"It may be a little too late but I hope that they do take action, because while they are talking shop, gangsters and drug dealers are holding our community to ransom."