FRAMESBY Extension residents in Port Elizabeth are fed up with squatters they believe are the reason for the increased levels of crime in the area.
But the DA's Wards 8 and 9 councillors, Gustav Rautenbach and Heinrich Muller respectively, believe the squatters are not to blame for the house-breakings that have hit the area in the past year.
The squatters occupy the bush on both sides of Frikkie Kotze Road, which links Kabega Road to Samantha Way. The area borders wards 8 and 9.
A resident and businesswoman, who did not want to be named for fear of losing clients, said she had reported the problem several times to Rautenbach.
"I started reporting this to Gustav in September last year, but I cannot say it's the same people. We have had squatters for a long time now in the area.
"I feel for them but something needs to be done. My concern is the number of break-ins we have had," she said.
Muller said he had asked the municipality several times to have the bush cleared.
"All the channels have been followed. The municipality told me there are no funds. Funding has always been a problem with the municipality; they are always cutting it.
"It really is a frustrating situation but I do not believe the squatters are the ones doing all the house-breakings. Petty crimes like stealing clothes from the line, yes, but house- breaking is more of a syndicate," Muller said.
"We ask the residents to be patient."
Rautenbach said he had spoken to the squatters.
"They call themselves job- seekers. They come from Gelvandale, Motherwell and other areas. They told me it was expensive to travel every day.
"There might be some job- seekers who are involved in crime. It is a very difficult situation to address. You go there and clear the squatters today and tomorrow they are back.
"It is an ongoing problem," he said.
Rautenbach said they needed to put more pressure on the municipality.
"How can one say funding is a problem, but we have R10-million to R12-million for Afcon? And then say we have no money for service delivery.
"Every problem has a solution, we just have to find it," Rautenbach said.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the municipality could not forcibly remove the squatters.
"The people have been living there for many years and the municipality has tried on several occasions to move them. Unfortunately, our efforts could not bear fruit, but we have to find a lasting solution," Baron said.
In an e-mail from the municipal land invasion officer, Sibusiso Mkalipi, to Muller dated August 31, which The Herald has seen, Mkalipi promises to attend to the complaint as soon as possible.