Oropune residents appeal to HDC and police for help

Fol­low­ing the sec­ond mur­der in a month in their com­mu­ni­ty, res­i­dents of Orop­une Gar­dens are ap­peal­ing for in­ter­ven­tion from the au­thor­i­ties to deal with an up­surge in gun vi­o­lence and oth­er il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in the area

The lat­est mur­der oc­curred on Thurs­day at about 9.38 pm when a man was fa­tal­ly shot out­side Build­ing 4A. The vic­tim has been iden­ti­fied as Calvin Carl­ton Strak­er, 27, who had ad­dress­es in Orop­une Gar­dens and Sama­roo Vil­lage, Ari­ma.


On June 4, Kadeem "Smeagol" Young, 19, al­so known as DJ Kid­do, was shot dead out­side the same build­ing at around 9.15 pm.

One frus­trat­ed res­i­dent, Colleen Hold­er, said a com­mu­ni­ty What­sApp chat has been "light­ing up with res­i­dents ex­press­ing their fear, frus­tra­tion, ir­ri­ta­tion, anger at this sit­u­a­tion that seems to be spi­ralling out of con­trol." She said in re­cent weeks gun­shots from a high pow­ered weapon has been "ring­ing out on al­most a dai­ly ba­sis."

Ac­cord­ing to Hold­er, last Wednes­day res­i­dents held a meet­ing to dis­cuss to take back their com­mu­ni­ty from the crim­i­nal el­e­ments. Sev­er­al agen­cies and of­fi­cials were in­vit­ed to the meet­ing, in­clud­ing Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (HDC) Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Brent Lyons, who failed to show and in­stead sent a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the agency's Fa­cil­i­ties Man­age­ment Unit.

She said the res­i­dents want­ed Lyons to hear first hand about their con­cerns in­clud­ing:

° Il­le­gal oc­cu­pan­cy of HDC apart­ments which fa­cil­i­tates crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty

° Pos­si­ble evic­tion of per­sons flout­ing com­mu­ni­ty rules and en­gag­ing in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty

° Use of un­oc­cu­pied/van­dal­ized units for le­git­i­mate com­mu­ni­ty ac­tiv­i­ties (Build­ing 237)

° Lack of a com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre—no place for res­i­dents to meet

° Poor street light­ing, poor light­ing in the car parks and build­ing stair­cas­es

° Poor road con­di­tions

° Clear­ing of drains

° Sta­tus of drain pumps

°Over­grown bush on emp­ty lots

Hold­er said Lyons and the Hous­ing Min­is­ter Ed­mund Dil­lon re­cent­ly did a walk-through in the com­mu­ni­ty dur­ing work­ing hours when most res­i­dents were not at home.

"But what did they see? What did they find? How are they ad­dress­ing the out­lined con­cerns of res­i­dents?" she asked.

"The blame for the spi­ralling crime in the com­mu­ni­ty rests with the HDC. They are ful­ly aware that they are not en­forc­ing the rules that will al­low the com­mu­ni­ty to re­main safe. There is a thriv­ing hard­ware in the vicin­i­ty of Build­ing 4A. Is it le­gal? Car wash par­ties on a reg­u­lar ba­sis; ear-pop­ping mu­sic; shops and busi­ness­es that are not sup­posed to be op­er­at­ing with­in this res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ty. The crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ty is spread­ing through­out the com­mu­ni­ty."

Hold­er said she was twice a vic­tim of crime in the area. Her car was stolen from her at gun­point out­side her home last year, and one month lat­er her house was bro­ken in­to.

She asked: "Were res­i­dents who were brought in fol­low­ing var­i­ous dis­as­ters giv­en the same strict po­lice once-over? What about the po­lice cer­tifi­cate of char­ac­ter? When en­tire com­mu­ni­ties were brought in to Orop­une Gar­dens why weren't they split up? This sit­u­a­tion pre­dates both Mr Lyons and Mr Dil­lon, but it has per­sist­ed. We have per­sons har­bour­ing crim­i­nals, hid­ing weapons, fa­cil­i­tat­ing the crime.

"HDC needs to en­force the rules and start evict­ing per­sons who are flout­ing the rules, evict per­sons who are op­er­at­ing busi­ness­es il­le­gal­ly, evict per­sons who are il­le­gal­ly oc­cu­py­ing apart­ments, evict per­sons who are har­bour­ing crim­i­nals. Work with the po­lice, work with res­i­dents to make the com­mu­ni­ty safe."

HDC has been con­tact­ed for com­ment and Guardian Me­dia is await­ing a re­sponse.

Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat

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