With voters going to the polls on Wednesday August 3, to elect their ward councillors and local government representatives, Athlone News visited the 10 wards in its distribution area, to see what challenges residents face and what change they hope for with their votes.
In Ward 49, which includes Athlone, Bridgetown, Gleemore, Hazendal, Kewtown, Parktown, and Silvertown and is currently served by DA councillor Suzette Little, 18 012 people are registered to vote this year.
Ms Little will not be standing for re-election, despite having enjoyed the support of most voters in the 2011 municipal election. That year there were 17 329 registered voters in the ward. Of that number, 11 595 voters turned out at the polls and Ms Little took 85.42% of the vote. This year the ward has 18 candidates contesting the election.
We asked Lance Hair, 18, from Hazendal, and Abduraman Joseph, 60, also from Hazendal, what challenges the new ward councillor should address.
Lance told Athlone News he felt gangsterism, drugs and shooting were major problems in the area and would require the new ward councillor’s attention.
The new ward councillor, he said “should be someone who could stand up for the community.
Mr Joseph echoed these sentiments, but felt burglaries were the biggest problem in the area.
“The problem we still face is a lot of break-ins in the area. The police think they are kwaai when they come to one house and raid it, (but) why don’t they raid all the houses? The other merchants see them arresting one person and hide their drugs.
“Our place is surrounded by the train line and the river. If the police come, they can block the area and arrest the merchants. They’ll have no way out.
“The break-ins begin with drugs. They steal because they need the money for drugs. The new ward councillor must work with the police to get rid of this,” said Mr Joseph.
Ward 60, which includes Athlone, Sybrand Park, Belthorn Estate, Crawford, Lansdowne, and Rondebosch East, is served by DA councillor Anthea Green, who is not standing for re-election.
The ward has 15 693 registered voters, which is down from 2011 when 15 891 people registered to vote and 11 146 did so. In Ward 60, we spoke to Perl Dedricks, 20, from Sybrand Park and Collin Arendse, 60, from Athlone.
Ms Dedricks felt housing for the homeless must be on the new ward councillor’s priority list. “In this area it’s very hard to survive if you don’t have an income, so many people started their own businesses. Everyone is here to survive, whether you’re sleeping outside or in a house. The new ward councillor must give the homeless people houses. That must be their first priority. It’s not right to sleep on the street,” said Ms Dedricks.
Mr Arendse, a fruit and vegetable seller, said he would like the new ward councillor to organise for proper structures traders.
“The crime in the area is very bad. The new ward councillor needs to do something about it. Our stands for the fruit and vegetables must be built up. If it rains, our things get wet. Our permits are R89 per month but we don’t always get that money, in so we can’t afford it,” said Mr Arendse.
When voters go to the polls to vote for Ward 60’s new councillor, they’ll have 18 candidates to choose from.
Ward 50, into which Bonteheuwel falls, is served by DA councillor Theresa Thompson, who is stepping down after three terms as ward councillor. In 2011, 15 352 people regsitered to vote and only 10 076 voted. This year 15 752 people have reistered to vote.
Bonteheuwel resident Yusuf Blanckenberg, 62, hoped the new councillor would be able to put an end to people being robbed on their way to work.
“There’s so much gangstersim and shooting in the area still. The new councillor needs to put a stop to the skelms standing on the corner waiting to rob the people when they go to work. That leads to murders and shooting,” said Mr Blanckenberg.
Seventeen candidates are contesting the election in Ward 50.
In Ward 42, which includes Gugulethu and parts of Manenberg, the ANC’s Coetzee Ntotoviyane is ward councillor. In 2011, 13 968 people registered to vote with 10 119 turning out at the polls. This year, 14 461 people have registered to vote and 28 candidates are contesting the election.
Edward Peterson, 75, from Manenberg, identified gangsterism as a major problem in the area and blamed the parents of the gangsters for their children committing crime.
“The gangsterism, drugs and murders going on in Manenberg are still big issues, but the parents are to blame.
“They get impatient when the children don’t listen to them when they tell them not do these things. They don’t continue to speak to the children. The new ward councillor must hold continuous meetings in the area with the community to get rid of the problems,” said Mr Peterson.
In Ward 48, the DA’s Magedien Davids hopes to retain his position as ward councillor after the election. In 2011, 15 796 people registered to vote and only 10 218 voted. This year, 13 551 people have registered to vote.
Athlone resident Edith Green, 83, complained that she can’t walk around because of the shooting.
“The crime in the area such and drugs is something the ward councillor needs to address. It’s terrible, they shoot all the time, it’s not safe. I can hardly walk around,” said Ms Green.
Ward 48 covers parts of Athlone, Thornton, Belgravia, Belthorn Estate, Crawford, Gatesville, Penlyn Estate, and Rylands and has 21 candidates contesting the election.
* Look out for next week’s Athlone News in which we’ll feature the rest of the wards in our distribution area.