Residents accuse councillor of ‘unfairness’

Hanover Park residents have expressed their dissatisfaction at ward councillor Antonio van der Rheede whom they have accused of employing the same residents for various projects.

Laeekah Khan, who has lived in Hanover Park for more than 40 years, claims that the same residents are employed for the same projects which makes it impossible for others to get a chance to be employed.

She said over the years the same issue had reccurred but the most recent instance was the festive season programme where residents were employed to safeguard the community and vehicles by patrolling in the streets. This, she said, was done by residents who had had the opportunity to work for the City of Cape Town’s programmes before.

“It is unfair that the same people get employed over and over again. What must happen to the rest of us who are applying for jobs? Old people are being employed to safeguard the taxi ranks but how will they do anything if a crime should occur? If he doesn’t want to give the jobs to us then give it to the youth who are patiently waiting for jobs,” she said.

She said that the Mr Van der Rheede kept giving jobs to people that he knew and that he is never available to speak with.

“The one time when I did approach him in November, he said they would only work for the day and that there were no jobs and that the City doesn’t have money but these people are still employed. They use the same people for all the jobs,” she said.

Sakiena Daniels, who has lived in Hanover Park for 45 years, agreed. She said that pensioners could not be employed to protect the area.

“This is very unfair. That is why our children are sitting on the streets because they cannot get work. If they shoot or rob people at the taxi rank what can the pensioners do? My son and daughter have been looking for jobs for months but are yet to hear anything,” she said.

However, Mr Van der Rheede said the festive season project was not just a normal project which any resident could apply for.

He said that residents who were employed had to have had some knowledge of community safety and should been active on a safety forum or neighbourhood watch already therefore knowing the ins and outs of the area.

He added that usually residents could apply for a job within a programme but the festive season programme needed residents who were familiar with the area’s challenges, knew who and what to look out for so that they could prevent and be alert for any crimes.

“There was no unfairness. These are people who give up their time to keep our community safe every day, so yes they will be employed in a programme when such an opportunity like this arises because it would be grossly unfair to employ someone who hasn’t been active in a safety forum or watch,” he said.

He said his door is always open for residents and if he is not there his personal assistant is.

Mr Van Der Rheede said most of the people employed in the project were women who are strong authority figures in the community and who know exactly what is going on.

“I do not discriminate against age. If an older person comes to me and says they want to work and they are able to, I will give them a job. They have more knowledge than we do and they know the area the best. Taxi drivers have been coming to me and thanking me for the residents who are patrolling the rank and they say that they feel much safer now. So this is a positive thing that we are doing and everyone is on board with it,” he said.