Plea for help at Kepple Court

Dorothy Soetwater, Tesha Arendse, Fazlin Brenner, Veronica Olifant, Bernadette Volkers and Nazma Samoedien, who are part of the court committee, have been raising their concerns.

When residents of Kepple Court in the heart of Lavender Hill hear gunshots they have to duck and dive because bullets often fly through their windows.

At one flat the window is riddled with bullets and those who live there have given up replacing the glass because it is guaranteed to be damaged again when the next sporadic shootings take place – as they always do.

The court committee and residents have been liaising with Marita Petersen, councillor for Ward 68 (Lavender Hill and Steenberg) to get fencing, which they believe will improve the safety and security of the block of flats that is caught in the middle of gang territories.

Dorothy Soetwater, a resident of the flat for more than 30 years, said fencing is the most important issue on a list of concerns which includes broken staircases, stair railings, crumbling walls, lack of services, rain gutters and other things that need to be addressed.

“We feel that we have been forgotten because the flats are falling apart. When it rains all the water from the roof flows into our homes because there are no gutters, crumbling window frames and staircases are falling on us while we walk and sit outside and we have four bins that have to be used for 48 households. It has never been painted and the railing is broken, which means a child or elderly person can easily fall through and fall from four floors,” said Ms Soetwater.

She said gangsters run through their court and shoot at all hours of the day and terrorise them.

“The other day gangsters ran through our court and hit all the windows out of a ground floor flat. If we had a fence then we would be safer and would be able to lock the gate if there are shootings or if it gets unsafe,” she said.

Anotherresident,Nazma Samoedien fears the gang violence will not stop any time soon and the only workable solution to the escalating violence is to close the court off and close a notorious thoroughfare where the shoot-outs usually occur.

“We were promised by Ms Petersen that the fencing would go up. This was three years ago already but nothing has come of it. We don’t know what to do anymore. We’re scared that we will be killed sitting in our homes or while our children are playing in their homes. We live in fear every day and no one is doing anything to help us,” she said.

Another resident Tesha Arendse said court blocks on the outskirts of Lavender Hill have been upgraded and painted but not flats in the centre of the community. “It’s like they want to paint a pretty picture when people are driving past on Prince George Drive but we on the inside don’t get the same,” she said.

Ms Petersen said the court, along with others, are part of a regeneration programme but lockdown has put a halt on a lot of work that was due to be implemented already.

“This court, along with Ashley Court and others are going to be part of the regeneration project and this has been planned in the budget but I am asking for residents to be patient as we work through the lockdown. The City of Cape Town and the world have been affected and lockdown has set us all back but plans have been made and it will be implemented soon,” she said.

With regards to fencing, Ms Petersen said the City is opting for palisade walling instead of palisade fencing.

Malusi Booi, the City’s Mayco member for human settlements, said the department is aware of the work that needs to be done at Kepple Court, and will attend to repairs as part of its asset improvement plan as soon as possible.

“The tender process for this project will get under way soon. Once completed, the City will be able to make the required upgrades. We encourage tenants to call the City’s call centre to log their required maintenance requests and to please get a reference number so that they can track progress,” he said.

Fencing will also be part of the upgrade.

Responding to residents’ claims that the City has only in the past upgraded courts on the outskirts of Lavender Hill, Mr Booi said all City-owned community residential units (CRUs) undergo regular upgrades and maintenance.

The City’s human settlement directorate plans to complete more upgrades and maintenance on City rental units across the metro over the weeks and months ahead.

He could not give a timeline of when these upgrades will be started and completed but added that the City will, however, attend to repairs as soon as it is possible to do so.

Mr Booi said Lavender Hill and Retreat multi-storey blocks that will have staircases repaired or replaced in this financial year include Arundel, Aspeling, Constitution, Frere, Parkin, Pontac, Stone, Stukeri, Van Der Leur, Tyne and in Retreat will be Horsley, Ayre, Lesar, Albertus and Sterling courts.

Repairs and maintenance for Kepple Court will be communicated to residents as soon as possible.

Responding to the complaints about the lack of bins at the court, Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for waste and water, said the City’s records reflect that there were sufficient bins for each court, meaning that they were probably stolen.

“Residents need to report the theft of their bins to the local housing office, whereupon the solid waste management department will be notified and process the delivery of replacement bins. It is important to note that bins need to be kept in a secure space to avoid repetitive theft,” she cautioned.