Don’t forget us

Riyaaz Taylor, Bonteheuwel

In the past, one could venture out in the evening with caution. However these days this is simply not possible. “Slot en grendel” and lights out early, like a prison camp, is what has become of our area.

Once the sun sets and the dark creeps in, the blokke grow quiet and empty, with dodgy alleyways, known as the proverbial “gangetjies”, lurking with evil.

It is late night and early mornings that our people who travel to and from work, get robbed in these alleyways, which provide quick access to taxis on main roads and vice versa.

I have recently heard a taxi door operator loading from Salt River to Bonteheuwel calling out to customers, “bulletproof Bonteheuwel”.

This is something some of us would find amusing, although it is nothing to smirk at, in view of the lives the shootings have claimed.

It has become the norm to hear gunshots once the sun sets and most shootings echoes from the distance.

Almost weekly, stories are heard of youngsters being shot and killed and innocent people falling victim to violent crime.

Outsiders are too scared to come into our area.

I believe gangsterism is not the only cause of decay in our area.

There are many contributing factors, made worse by the City of Cape Town. If an area is not looked after and maintained, then it becomes an eyesore – residents can’t afford to maintain roads, fields, hills, parks, alleyways and housing.

Typically, the hill in Bramble Way is used as a dump. The council never seem to come out and water or cut the grass.

Concrete poles along the railway line are broken and removed in order to gain access to the railway area and Kalksteenfontein. Gangs would shoot and kill in Bonteheuwel and make a quick exit via the removed concrete poles, never to be caught.

At the same time, the railways’ broken exits are used by drug addicts who sit hidden along the train lines and get high.

The railway divides Bonteheuwel from Kalksteenfontein and Epping and has concrete poles in place as fencing was supposed to prevent trespassing.

Many a time the railway security vehicles are seen parked within the railway grounds and nothing is being done to remove trespassers.

At times, the trains would stop before entering Bonteheuwel station, which enables the train to get boarded and innocent fare-paying passengers are robbed and attacked.

If the DA ward councillor is doing his job, then it appears he is only working within selected areas of our district.

We need a councillor, who communicates and understands the plight of the average Bonteheuwel family struggling in our district.

When the time comes for elections, councillors and politicians spring up out of nowhere and when it is all said and done, service delivery becomes non-existent and Bonteheuwel is forgotten.

We the people have a right to basic living necessities, which are falling short in the Bonteheuwel district. If we look at the Langa housing project, we see new flats being erected with solar geysers being supplied.

When we look at places like Hanover Park and Ottery, these flats are being revamped with aluminium windows installed and fresh coats of paint.

We would like to see change in our community for the better; we would welcome more visible policing, the proper cleaning and maintenance of all our roads, fields, hills, parks and alleyways (only main roads are swept and cleaned and the back roads are ignored).

No-dumping signs are needed on fields and hills. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has to close illegal entrances and arrest trespassers and vandals.

Our ward councillor and the municipality must be visible, as almost each dwelling needs basic maintenance.

An elderly lady said to me last week, she asked the council to replace her back door months ago and she is still waiting.

Gangsterism might not be eradicated totally but the municipality has the necessary resources to bring about relevant changes in our area and re-arrange the face of Bonteheuwel as negativity breeds negativity. We are, after all, rate-paying owners and tenants and are growing tired of subsidising other areas where people get partial subsidised electricity, solar geysers and fresh coats of paint on their homes.

People marching against the gang violence, robberies and deaths in Bonteheuwel, is simply not enough to curb the scourge we are faced with. Let those who have died be remembered, the smallest change could make a difference in saving a life. Please don’t forget our people in Bonteheuwel.

Ward councillor, Angus Mckenzie, responds: Since August 2016 we have done a fair amount in ensuring we achieve our short- and long-term goals. We have rejuvenated our neighbourhood watch and smash and grabs at all three entrances to Bonteheuwel have basically been eradicated. Also, for the first time in many years, not one Bonteheuwel school was vandalised during the holiday period. The Walking Bus Project sees parents and unemployed people walk our children to and from school, daily. Bonteheuwel High School received one of its highest pass marks ever – 88 percent and more than a quarter of those pupils now have an opportunity to study further. Children are enjoying going to school because they can focus on their school work and not worry about their safety getting to and from school.

Two weeks ago, an entire family came to see me to say they have had enough of drug abuse and the effects thereof. Since then, Social Development MEC Albert Fritz has already made contact and social workers have been sent out.

With regards to dumping, you would have noticed that throughout Bonteheuwel over the past two weeks, we have been cleaning up the area. We also placed the issue on the agenda at our recent sub-council meeting so we can find solutions.

In December, just before the schools closed, we had all the parks in Bonteheuwel painted and cleaned and during the holidays, every City facility ran programmes for children. These are things that have not happened for a long time. We are busy with Phase 2 and 3 of a multi-million rand electricity upgrade project for Bonteheuwel that will install new cabling and provide electricity to backyard dwellers.

We are in the final phases of the public participation programme for a multi-million rand Bonteheuwel CBD upgrade plan to link Bonteheuwel station to Netreg station, with the CBD being the focal point, returning retailers and businesses to Bonteheuwel.

In June, we will start upgrading most of Bonteheuwel’s roads from potholed cement to tar.

When I took over, people complained about blocked drains and sewers. You would have noticed that these have all been cleaned and upgraded.

With regards to grass cutting, it was communicated widely that the City had an issue regarding the vendor. In the interim, we had grass cut throughout Bonteheuwel and this is well on display.

Sadly a major issue remains: the shooting and gangsterism. In your part of Bonteheuwel, two young men were shot recently – Dylan and Chadwin. I was on the scene of both shootings, which were allegedly gang-related.

However not one resident has come forward with information. While policing is not in the scope of my duties, I can safely say this will make the job of catching and prosecuting perpetrators very difficult.

It’s incorrect to assume that nothing is taking place in Bonteheuwel. We have achieved a lot in a short time, but much still needs to be done and will be done.

As a proud and avid DA member, I urge you to help me and get involved. We cannot do this alone, I admit that. Please contact me as soon as you are available so we can not only dream of the change but actually be the change that we so desperately need. Thank you again for your time and effort.