In the line of fire

Ward councillor Gerry Gordon at the meeting.

After taking drastic action through burning tyres, in front of the Seawinds multipurpose hall, on Tuesday October 5, to demand better service delivery, leaders of Lavender Hill’s informal settlements were given a chance to put their gripes on the table at a meeting, in the same hall, on Friday October 7.

The gathering was called by Gerry Gordon ward councillor for Ward 67 (Zeekoeivlei, Lotus River – south of Oribi, west of Strandfontein Road, north of Bosbok, east of Grysbok, south of 9th, west of Canal, north of Fisherman, east of Lake – Seawinds, Vrygrond, Pelican Park, Pelican Heights and Eagle Park), who responded to the concerns of the camp leaders of Overcome Heights, Village Heights, Hillview and Military Heights informal settlements and invited the relevant City of Cape Town officials to answer their questions.

Each one at the roundtable voiced their concerns in an orderly fashion.

Aysha Davids, camp leader, of Village Heights, questioned the role of Law Enforcement. “We have identified 239 shebeens in the area and if we call Law Enforcement when there is a problem, they say it is not their problem (it’s SAPS’ problem) but it must be.”

She said land invasion by gangs is another issue. “We have followed the right procedures by getting an affidavit to get these people off the land,” said Ms Davids.

We have spoken to the Department of Human Settlements, and also spoken to the councillor but nothing has been done to get the people out. If nothing is done we will burn the structures down ourselves.”

Elected chairperson of all the informal settlements, Charmaine Pretorius, said water and electricity problems are also not sorted out immediately. “We SMS the relevant departments, but they only respond a week later. We understand that sometimes those officials are afraid to enter the area, because of shootings but if they are afraid how do they think we feel, as the community with all these shootings around us? Community leaders must walk 24/7 to help, even when there are shootings. We want to help the community but we need police visibility.”

Gavin Greeve of Law Enforcement said: “We cannot assist in (responding to) gang violence, but Metro police can. We are short-staffed as well. However, there is training offered for an auxiliary member of a neighbourhood watch. We can work with this trained member who will be able to make an arrest.”

Ms Davids said another concern is that Solid Waste’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) process is flawed. “We are seeing people working in the streets and they are not on the database,” she claimed

Ms Gordon replied: “Only people on the database will get a job. The computer will reveal their names. So no one off the database will get a job.”

Ms Davids requested that all problems in the community must be raised with the camp leaders first. “Some people run to the ward councillor. We want to be informed first before you address the issues.”

Ms Davids said they would like to be informed about any meeting regarding improving the structure of the informal settlements. “We heard about a meeting in Khayelitsha discussing issues in informal settlements and we were not informed.”

William Lewis, camp leader of Overcome Heights, complained that if there is a meeting called by the City it should be held close by. “We are over 40 000 people in Overcome Heights and if the City calls meetings please don’t have meetings in Capricorn or elsewhere because our people cannot go that far.”

He requested that all camp leaders must be informed of any information relayed by the City officials. “If a meeting is called please have it on the soccer field next to Overcome Heights.”

Ms Gordon suggested that regular information sessions be held so that the right departments can be informed on what to do as well as educational programmes for example on by-laws and so on

The next feedback meeting will be for the camp leaders only, at the multipurpose hall, on Thursday October 13.

Ms Davids said on Saturday October 8, the Grassy Park Community Police Forum met with them to discuss safety.