A meeting which was meant to address challenges in the Crawford and Athlone areas went south after the neighbourhood watch chairperson demanded more transparency and results from the City and civic association.
At the meeting held at the Athlone Baptist Church Hall on Monday October 22, resident Dolores Erasmus, said the vacant field in Church Street, which she had complained about to the civic association six months ago, was still troubling the community.
She said she had regularly had the grass cut and paid for it out of her own pocket, but now that she had stopped doing so nothing was being done to maintain the land.
“Now people are dumping there. I can stop them during the day but not at night,” she said.
In response, Athlone ward councillor Rashid Adams said the community needed to stand together to prevent further decay of the area and that he needed to find out who the owner of the land was and advise them to build on or sell the land.
“The City can clean up the land and bill the owner, but the same thing will occur afterwards. We need to do something stronger about this because it has become a problem for the residents,” he said.
But chairman of the AthCraw neighbourhoodwatch,Abdusalaam Zemanay, said he was not satisfied with the ward councillor’s response and that issues mentioned in previous meetings had not been investigated by the Crawford Civic Association or the City of Cape Town.
Mr Zemanay added that minutes of previous meetings were not available and that while he had approached the civic about marching through the streets demanding an end to the overcrowding of houses, drugs, and prostitution in the area, nothing had been done about that.
“We are mentioning the same thing over and over, and nothing is happening, and we are not seeing success. This lady complained about that land six months ago, and nothing was done. We expect the civic to look into it continuously because we are complaining about it continuously, and now crime is taking place there,” he said.
He also said that the overcrowding of houses in Athlone had become a huge problem, along with drugs and vacant land.
“You keep saying we need to do something about it, but we receive no support from the City or civic to address these issues. It is unacceptable that you don’t yet know who the owner is,” he said, addressing the ward councillor.
Mr Adams responded that the City had no problem with residents marching as long as it was done legally.
He said the City could not interfere with the overcrowded houses if they were privately owned properties.
However, he said, he understood the residents’ frustrations as houses which had been built to accommodate four to five people had as many as 30 people living in them, which placed further pressure on the area’s resources.
“The community needs to stand together and do something about it, speak to the owners of these properties” he said.
Adding to the list of challenges faced by the area, Crawford Civic Association chair Graham Collison, said there were a number of gravel roads in Athlone that needed to be tarred. He said roadworks in Lawrence Road had caused major inconvenience for residents who couldn’t get out of their homes in the morning.
“Church Street, which is used as a main road to get in and out of the area, only has one sidewalk, which means that people have to walk in the road, which poses a safety risk,” he said.
Mr Adams said he would look into the enquiry and get back to the residents.
When residents also raised their concerns about blocked drains in the area, Mr Adams advised them to be mindful of what they put down their drains to avoid such blockages.
He also encouraged all neighbourhood watches to register with the sub-council so that they could benefit from the ward allocations, which could cover the cost of items such as two-way radios.
“If there is anything else that you need as a neighbourhood watch please let me know. Residents also need to inform us of any issues they have and once it has been cleared also let us know so that the query can be closed,” he said.