Manenberg in the spotlight

Premier Helen Zille delivers her Sopa

In her State of the Province address last week, Premier Helen Zille earmarked Manenberg as one of the areas that would be included in the City’s mayoral urban regeneration programme.

Manenberg residents, however, feel their voices are not being heard in the planning.

Ms Zille said the urban design programme would be used to transform neighbourhoods plagued by gang violence, drugs and alcohol abuse.

She also said, since 2015, the Province, City of Cape Town and community partners had been working together towards the vision of a youth lifestyle campus in Manenberg – a network of education and after-school facilities, linked by safe promenades and upgraded lighting and infrastructure.

Ms Zille said: “We have been helped every step of the way in Manenberg by the VPUU (Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading) not-for-profit organisation, that provides the interface between community and government.

“All partners recently participated in the annual community action plan review. Integral to implementing this vision – from a provincial perspective – is a schools upgrade programme,” she said.

The provincial education department receives funding for the upgrade of “plankie” schools in Manenberg, through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI).

The funds are transferred from the national Department of Basic Education, and have been used to replace the buildings of Silverstream and Red River primary schools in Manenberg.

“The Western Cape government, through the provincial education department, will fund any further replacement of schools in the area,” she said.

Ms Zille added that funding would be made available to replace schools with inadequate infrastructure with three new school buildings in the community.

She said the City had also agreed that it would benefit the youth of Manenberg to include a school of skills within the upgrade programme.

“This unique schooling model was designed by our education department to provide young people an alternative pathway into apprenticeships and jobs,” she said.

A request for proposals would also be issued by the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works this year to use all or part of the former GF Jooste Hospital site on Duinefontein Road for skills and community development use.

The City of Cape Town was also investing in various upgrades to public infrastructure in the community, including lighting, roads and parks, said Ms Zille.

“In order for the vision to become a reality, the current spatial landscape in Manenberg will obviously also be required to change.

“Each proposed step will still have to follow its own legislated process, including the public participation that is required.

“It is bureaucratic and time consuming, but we have to work within the law with every sector involved,” she said.

However, Roegchanda Pascoe, chairwoman of the Manenberg Safety Forum, said the City should not present finalised plans and expect the community to accept it without question.

It was essential, she said, for the City to engage with the community to properly understand their needs and wants.

“The City comes with their finalised plans and expects the community to just run with it. You have to listen to the plans of the people.

“Beatrix Lane is so small but also has a stronghold by the Hard Livings gang.

“What better way now to say here’s the money and redesign Manenberg to control the gangs, (but) they are not interested to listen to the people,” she said.

Ms Pascoe said the City should use Manenberg as an example of how change was possible in struggling communities.

“They use this top-down approach. They tell you to dream big and give your dream, but if your dream doesn’t fit into their plan, you can kiss it goodbye.

“They are using this as an opportunity to campaign for elections. We are tired of the lies
and misleading that happens,” she said.

Echoing her views on the importance of residents’ involvement, Ward 45 councillor Bonita Jacobs said the community and the City should work as a team to upgrade the area.

“The community is waiting on improvement and development in the area and they are waiting on the City to assist in changing their lives, but they also need to work with the City – they need to work as a team. With the programmes there will be an opportunity for job creation, which will eradicate gangsterism and unemployment,” she said.

Ms Jacobs said the upgrade could help remove the stigma associated with Manenberg.

Jonathan Jansen, chairman of the mayoral urban regeneration project, said they hoped to sign an action plan for the area by the end of March “but that document first needs to go to the community to see if that’s what they want”.