The residents and students are citing high crime and say they fear that they will be the target of these ex-prisoners. During the rowdy meeting held on Wednesday, one student explained that she was attacked and robbed in the early hours of Wednesday morning in the same area.
In a live video, one of the officials of the Department of Correctional Services, says they will come around with stakeholders to indulge irate residents and students who are upbeat to not have the ex-prisoners in their area.
In another video, one guy is overheard threatening to burn the house down if the plan is not scrapped. Some students demanded the owner’s apology.
It’s not yet known how many of these ex-prisoners will be released into this halfway house that has since caused tension between officials and residents in the area. In a video, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) ward 23 councillor, Tjaart van der Walt, raised the concerns of residents and said 176 residents have already signed a petition within a short space of time, saying they do not want this halfway house for parolees in Universitas.
VIDEO: Mangaung Metro Info Page (Facebook)
Van der Walt says residents and stakeholders that are interested to work with other groups to prevent planned housing of prisoners that he labelled as a disaster waiting to happen, must come together with the community policing forum (CPF) to discuss a way forward and to pool available resources for possible legal action. A few issues raised by residents include the fact that the area already is an extremely high crime area.
“The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Students Representative Council (SRC) attended the meeting and expressed its objection. Other neighbourhood and community organisations and student housing agents attended in numbers and expressed objections to the proposal. Legal experts with experience in similar cases in Mangaung have indicated their interest to get involved.”
“The Ward Committee members and councillors attended the meeting and expressed the rejection of the proposal by residents,” Van der Walt concluded.
The Deputy Regional Commissioner of the Free State Department of Correctional Services, Kenneth Mthombeni, says part of the tender process for halfway houses is engagement with the community. He says the department is not in charge of selecting the houses. In most cases the community’s objection to the halfway house, the agreement will be cancelled.