Each year, Langeberg Municipality spends thousands of rands on repairs to vandalised facilities. Sadly, it is mostly the facilities that have a purpose to provide communities with recreational space, and which contribute to their well-being, that are frequently targeted — even more so, those situated in isolated areas. Our sports grounds, parks, hiking trails and cemeteries are more and more the pick of vandals.
The municipality must, in general, plan and provide for depreciation, maintenance and repairs in its annual budgets. Vandalism generates recurring expenses that are difficult to justify. It burdens municipal budgets, ratepayers’ pockets and service delivery to our communities in general.
The detrimental effect of vandalism on society is broad. It ripples through almost every aspect of people’s daily lives, their needs, well-being and constitutional rights to dignity and safety. It’s hard to quantify the amount spent on repairs due to vandalism, because repeated repairs of the same equipment/facility can be interpreted as wasteful expenditure. For this reason items like the fences, vandalised toilets and benches are rather removed and not replaced.
Funds for recurring repairs owing to vandalism could be better spent on other much needed community projects and service delivery improvements, yet the costs of communities meeting their need to engage in recreational activities, to live in a safe environment and be treated with dignity, and so on, are not being met by the municipality, as per its obligations enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa.
This the municipality has been unable to justify. We need safe and protected cemeteries where graves are not desecrated, we need clean, working public toilets and water points as well as safe, well kept sports grounds, parks, halls and other public amenities.
We need all those things that vandals keep on destroying time after time. It is clear vandalism is a huge problem in the Langeberg municipal area, one the municipality cannot fight alone. It affects us all and must be tackled by all.
Communities can no longer rely on the municipality alone to safeguard community resources. As custodians of these public resources, communities must take pride and assist in every way possible to protect what is theirs. Communities must be the eyes and ears that always see and hear, and be the immediate source of reports of acts or incidents of unsavoury behaviour, destruction and vandalism.
It is important to report vandalism sooner, rather than later — before unattended problems become irreparable or maintenance costs escalate sky high.
The destruction of public and private property is a crime punishable by law. We urgently appeal to the community to report all acts of vandalism by calling the Langeberg Municipality’s Call Centre on 0860 88 1111 or the South African Police Services on 10111.