Steenvilla issues

John H Kolbie, Steenvilla

I am writing to you regarding your article “Steenvilla tenants vote Sohco ‘inadequate’”, Southern Mail, May 18.

As a tenant of Steenvilla since its inception in September 2010, I wish to state that the so-called “housing committee” do not represent the majority of tenants at aforementioned complex. As for the incidents at the meeting on May 5, it never occurred as per your report, firstly your reporter was not present at the meeting and nobody was forced to register or prevented from entering the facilities nor did anyone take their identity documents. We were asked beforehand to bring some form of identification to ensure that only tenants attend this meeting, neither Sohco management or Mr Madikizela’s staff asked for just one tenant of each of the 750 units to attend the meeting.

I was among the first group of 10 people present and witnessed the development of the process. If your reporter made an effort to consult more widely among the residents to ascertain the truth, she would have done a less biased report. Her report is, therefore, nothing but mischievous and filled with lies.

Security at the complex is not exceptional but adequate, and these gentlemen do a good job despite being verbally abused and threatened by some tenants or visitors whenever they carry their task as required by Sohco management.

Regarding the messy “bin area” we cannot lay the blame on the management. Tenants in Kaimans section should be commended for their effort to maintain and keep their areas neat at their own expense.

Did the so-called “committee members” explain to your reporter why Sohco was forced to close down one or two pedestrian entrances and the communal braai area in the complex? Who pays for repainting of walls where graffiti appears every week, who pays for replacing paving bricks continuously being ripped out by children to be used as soccer posts?

Incidentally, who is responsible for almost completely destroying the sprinkler system, that resulted in Sohco’s gardener’s inability to maintain and properly keep the green areas?

I consider every child in this complex to by my child and I care for their safety and security and every resident here, if I have to choose between my security, safety, neatness and respect among people versus anti-social behavior and chaos, I choose the former and will gladly pay for 30 years to have that catered for.

Why was only one of the six cars which was broken into reported to Muizenberg SAPS, according to Captain Stephen Knapp? Surely the owners of the affected cars should have done so in order to claim insurance. I have taken it upon myself to have discussions with Sohco about initiatives to assist and help those tenants who have difficulty meeting their obligation to Sohco, such as community markets where people can sell home produce and other goods to supplement their income. This will be started in conjunction with City Council. Details will be conveyed to interested parties by Sohco management. Mr Govender has agreed to help me develop open land inside the complex adjacent to the office block as a cross sports/play area for young children by supplying grass and compost.

Tenants with young children will only realise what they have with Sohco, when drugs and gangs invade, take over and bullets start flying.

I have noting to gain by speaking good for Sohco, my interest is to galvanise and not vandalise the community.

* Reporter Roshan Abrahams responds: I have been reporting on the Steenvilla tenants and their issues with Sohco management since February and I attended most of their meetings. However, I was not able to attend the meeting on May 5. As a tenant, you have the right to have your say, just like the housing committee members, who are also tenants and were voted by the other tenants to be their voice. I had a follow-up meeting with five of the Steenvilla housing committee members and they all said the same thing. I always write stories covering both sides of an argument.

When I emailed Sohco management they gave me comment, however, I did not get any response from the Department of Human Settlements, after trying several times to get feedback, which they failed to provide before the newspaper went to print.

When we approached the housing committee members for comment to Mr Kolbie’s letter, they sent us a video of the meeting and a letter showing that tenants needed to bring identification to the meeting.