Randburg Sun: You Are Not the Lawmakers
Although I fully support the initiatives of the Randburg Sun to address social and criminal issues in the community, I am gravely concerned about the manner in which your readers perceive your messages and their consequent actions. My concern arose from an incident that occurred on our pavement on 17.10.2009 at approximately 15:00. While I was in my front garden, I could hear ripping and tearing noises in front of my perimeter wall. Upon inspection, I discovered an elderly gentleman using a branch from a tree ripping my two armed response signs off the trees on my pavement where I had mounted them a few days before.
The gentleman had already ripped off and torn the first sign, and upon approaching him as he tore off the second sign I demanded to know what he was doing. He immediately turned to me, and cited the Randburg Sun as saying it carried an article stating that it was illegal to attach signs to a tree on the pavement, as these were council trees. I acknowledged the fact. However I further demanded to know what right he had to act on behalf of the council to perform their duties.
This is what led me to writing this letter and raising this grave concern. I’m troubled by the Randburg Sun enticing people to be vigilantes and performing acts of enforcing the by-laws. My issue is that no-one deputised the gentleman to perform these tasks, as I demanded to know on whose authority he was acting – he confirmed he was acting in response to the article in the Randburg Sun, and not on any other grounds or mandate.
Secondly, since the Randburg Sun in all probability only publishes short summaries of the by-laws, the total comprehensive view of the legislation is not understood or is misinterpreted. This is where a little knowledge becomes very dangerous. By rights, if I transgress the local by-laws, I get notified of the fact and have a certain number of days to remedy the situation to comply, or I can defend or appeal the situation.
As this gentleman believed he had the right to act on behalf of the municipality, my rights were infringed on grounds that I was not given an adequate opportunity to comply, defend or appeal my position. The gentleman didn’t even have the decency to ring my bell and discuss the matter with me; instead, in a cowardly fashion while no one observed him, he opted to take the law into his own hands.
The most distressing aspect of this nasty incident, is that the gentle feels quite content to pick on ‘soft targets’, and I feel his actions were malicious, and under the cover of a Randburg Sun article.
If this gentleman felt so strongly about the by-laws, why did he park his white VW Beetle at an intersection, which is in violation of the road ordinance. A vehicle may not be parked closer than 5m from an intersection. As my house is on an intersection, and this gentleman parked in the intersection, he clearly feels that he is entitled to break other laws in pursuit of enforcing compliance to one section of the municipal by-laws.
Furthermore, when I challenged him on whetter or not he would be removing the estate agent boards that cluttered my intersection, he was not willing to act on that. Additionally, he was not prepared to address the vagrants in the park across from my house, nor the squatters living on the northern part of the Linden SAPS police station.
In closing therefore, I’d like to request that the gentleman who patrols our suburbs in his white VW Beetle consider challenging all aspects of the by-laws that are being compromised, and not just the ‘soft targets’. Why does he not start a movement to address these matters? Is he an active member of the Linden CPF? Is he a chairperson for his street under the auspices of the Linden CPF? Why not address the issue of rat runners through the suburbs that have killed a number of domestic and wild animals and birds in the road? I believe there are much bigger fish to fry than ripping off my armed response signs that I mounted in an attempt to protect my wife, my baby and myself. If people like him addressed the bigger issues, I wouldn’t need to mount big ugly armed response signs in front of my house.
Lastly, there is a humorous side to the tale as well, in that the gentleman requested what my address was. Apart from the fact that I literally blew up at that point I indicated that he was standing at my address and that his vehicle was parked illegally in front of my address; his reason for wanting my address was that he could drop off a copy of the by-laws for me to read. Needless to say I’m still waiting for this promise. Additionally, I wonder if the gentleman legitimately procured the branch that he was using to rip my signs off with?
A note to the Randburg Sun: many readers perceive the Randburg Sun to not being good at self criticism. Subsequently I implore your editorial committee to demonstrate journalism professionalism and actually print this letter which does to a degree implicate the community newspaper as enticing readers to act irresponsibly. It is this type of behaviour that could result in our following the Walk Apart Scenario as predicted in the Dinokeng Scenarios.
Concerned anti-vigilante resident.