The year in review

The Rene Roman Search and Rescue Team was formed earlier this year after the St Montague Village teen was killed, allegedly by a neighbour.

As the curtain comes down on 2017, we look back at some of the stories that made headlines in the Southern Mail this year.

In the beginning of the year, we spoke to Ellen Pakkies from Lavender Hill.

A decade ago her story made headlines when she killed her tik addict son and this year it was being depicted in a film titled, Die Ellen Pakkies Storie. The film was shot in Lavender Hill and surrounds and will be released next year.
With the rising number of cellphone masts erected in residential areas, Steenberg residents came out in full force to petition against a proposed cell mast tower in their neighbourhood, in February.

After months of protesting, the proposal to rezone a 9m2 piece of land was rejected by the Municipal Planning Tribunal. Residents have shown they will ensured that they will fight against the mushrooming of phone masts, which they claim are a health hazard.

In March, residents and organisations in the Grassy Park police precinct protested – some in support of then station commander Colonel Shawn van Wyk, and others, against.

The station commander was accused of having a dictatorial management style as well as crimen injuria and internal grievances were lodged against him.

He has since been removed as station commander at Grassy Park, the claims still being investigated.

Also in March, we covered the heartbreaking story of teenager Rene-Tracey Roman who went missing from her home in St Montague Village on Friday March 10. Her bound and decomposed body was found two weeks later in a neighbour’s wendy house.

The accused, Andrew Plaatjies, was arrested and appeared in court on November 17. Meanwhile, a Rene Roman Search and Rescue Team was started by residents, family and friends to protect other children in the community.

In May, Lucinda Evans, former Steenberg Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, became the first female CPF cluster chairperson when she took up the role for the Mitchell’s Plain cluster, which includes Steenberg, Grassy Park, Mitchell’s Plain, Lentegeur, Strandfontein, Athlone, Lansdowne and Philippi police stations.

It was also in this month that the City of Cape Town announced that a R32 million clinic would be built for the residents of Pelican Park and the surrounding areas.

Construction started in July and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Before the mid-year school holidays, schools in Lavender Hill were forced to close their gates because of ongoing gang violence in the area.

The South African Police Service (SAPS), City of Cape Town and the education department were called to assess the situation and look at ways to make it safer for teachers and pupils.

Gang shootings started again in the past few weeks, leading to several fatalities and four children being caught in the crossfire. Steenberg police said they are working hard to combat gangsterism in the area.

In June, a group of Lavender Hill women launched a book, Women Surviving Lavender Hill, to tell their stories. The book is available at the New World Foundation in Lavender Hill.

In some more good news, the City of Cape Town announced that a R30 million housing development would be be built in Ottery. Construction on the site is set to start soon.

A housing development has also been earmarked for Retreat. The site behind Crestway High School in Retreat has been environmentally screened for a future project that could accommodate 1 530 units.

A tender to appoint environmental, engineering and town planing consultants will go out in March next year.

The Steenvilla housing complex has been in the news since last year and again recently following protests by tenants facing eviction by building management company Sohco.

On Thursday November 23 the latest evictions were carried out by the Red Ants Eviction Services and other security services following claims that some residents stopped paying rent.

The Steenberg/Retreat Civic Association has now come on board and asked for donations for residents who cannot afford their rent.

Next year is set to be a big one for campaigners fighting nine development decisions made by the City and Province in order to save the Philippi Horticultural Area. They have issued affidavits and are awaiting return papers before court dates can be set. They argue that losing the 3 000 hectare of farmland to development could push up food prices and degrade underground water quality.

The PHA has provided a 150 000-ton yield of vegetables and flowers since 1885 and presently employs thousands of people, most from surrounding communities.

The PHA is also a major catchment for the 630km2 Cape Flats Aquifer, an integrated underground water system covering 630km2, most of which lies beneath the Cape Flats and is covered by tar and concrete. It is also one of the City’s projects to find new water. In September, the PHA Campaign held a four-day summit where experts signed a proclamation calling for the farmland to be protected. More recently an application by Consol to mine for silica on the 50 to 65 hectares west of Ottery Road has been approved with a further 250 hectare earmarked for prospecting.

Those involved in the PHA have vowed to stop silica mining and development in the ‘breadbasket of Cape Town”.