Burman Bush conservancy on the cards

A SPATE of armed robberies within Burman Bush in Morningside and the arrest of a suspect at the weekend has sparked plans to establish a conservancy to deal with issues of vagrancy and crime in the reserve.

Morningside resident, James Kuhlwilm, one of the victims of a robbery in Burman Bush said the crime had become a common occurence.

“I was robbed at gunpoint in the Burman Bush nature reserve and had my phone stolen. When I searched the area online later, the first thing that came up was advice not to enter the area. The reviews on Google also have several people reporting that they were held up at gunpoint. The fact that there are armed men roaming this pleasant area of greenery in the city is very worrying in itself, especially since it is right outside my home on Peter Mokaba Road. What should be a pleasant area for all to enjoy is now a place where you are threatened and stripped of dignity by men who could very easily kill you,” he said.

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After the arrest of a suspect at the weekend, Mayville SAPS sent out an appeal to anyone who may have been a victim of a robbery in the reserve to come forward to see if they could identify the suspect.

Ward councillor Martin Meyer, who has been working with the Parks Department to increase security at Burman Bush said Garth Kloppenborg from Parks and a special operations department of the City was looking to secure funds from the budget to fix the fence at the reserve.

“Metro Police have been patrolling the area regularly because of the increase of vagrants inside the reserve. There is also the issue of regular patrols inside the bush as there are only four staff at Burman Bush which is a problem,” he said.

Meyer said extra park rangers who used to help with patrols were now in Silverglen dealing with land invasions. He said he was working on a plan to set up a conservancy, the Friends of Burman Bush, with the help of residents. A meeting was held with interested residents on Monday evening, and Meyer met again with officials on Tuesday to plot a way forward.

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“The two meetings were positive and it was agreed that a few things have to happen simultaneously. The City is looking into options to fix the holes in the fence as quickly as possible, and we will engage with the various law enforcement agencies to work together to remove the people living illegally in the bush. But the long term solutions are the most exciting. People seem very keen to set up a Friends of Burman Bush group working towards a Conservancy. We also want to develop it as a tourism spot. It has been shown where public spaces are utilised fully by the community, the unwanted elements disappear. We will thus engage with various groups, like schools, sports clubs, walking clubs and so forth to get people back to Burman Bush,” he said.

He said there was a big community picnic planned for September to bring the community together and to launch plans for Burman Bush.


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