Lavender Hill ‘family’ take court ownership

ROSHAN ABRAHAMS

Lavender Hill residents can finally continue their parents’ legacy of beautifying the area with a community garden, now that they have managed to get their court fenced off.

The residents said they have had enough of the gang shootings in the area.

They got especially fed up when they attended the 21st birthday celebration of one of their children and heard gunshots outside.

They called an emergency meeting with MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato, of the department of community safety, the ward councillor and other organisations to share their grievances. They also marched through the streets with their children to voice their frustration at the violence (“United call to action”, Southern Mail, November 18 2015).

When the City followed through with their promise to fence off Wicht Courts with security gates, a court executive committee was elected and a tenant meeting was held, at the Lavender Hill school hall, on Sunday February 28, to discuss the way forward.

The residents shared their plans to take “ownership” of their area by employing a caretaker to landscape their garden, clean the bins and to man the gates.

Adele Campbell, who grew up in Wicht Court, said most of them are like a big family. “We grew up here, had our families and some of us are housewives and some professionals. We have a neighbour, Annetta Hermanus, who has lived here since 1965 when the Lavender Hill flats were built.”

She said their parents used to keep their area clean and started a garden. “We would like to continue our parents’ legacy by planting trees and plants in our garden.”

She said over the years, gangsterism increased and they were too scared to spend time outside. “We had to look over our shoulders all the time.”

She said mostly children use the courts as a walkway to Prince George Drive Primary School, situated opposite the road. “We used to have a garden, but people trampled the plants and didn’t look after it. Now that the fence is up, we have employed Wayne October as our caretaker and each tenant will give a dona- tion towards a stipend for him,” she said.

Mr October said he can’t wait to continue cultivating the garden. “I am clearing the plot and I am planning to make a fish pond. I use my own tools.”

Mr October said his green fingers run in the family. “My late father was a landscaper,” he said proudly.

“We are keeping our grounds clean and creating employment. One of our neighbours will supply us with detergents to clean our bins.”

She said tenants dug deep into their pockets to pay three unemployed young people to assist the City’s contractor to upgrade their staircases.

She said they are also planning to keep their children off the streets. “We have long-term plans to request the City to provide us with a park and a gym.”

She said their short-term plans are to open a soup kitchen and to feed the children on Easter Sunday, March 27,and to have Wicht Court buzzing with games such as five-a-side soccer, netball, dominoes, kerrim and chess. The event will start at 2pm.