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Strandfontein residents butt heads with City

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Residents and community members from the Strandfontein community held a protest march this past weekend, against a perceived lack of communication by the City of Cape Town towards decision making in the area. The march, which was organised by the Strandfontein Social and Economic Development Forum, highlighted numerous problems currently facing the community.

Amongst the most recent issues involved the city’s decision to bring in three new families from Tafelsig, to the areas already overcrowded informal settlements. The group’s spokesperson Mandy Van Willingh expressed frustration that more families were being brought in without any consultation with the community.

She noted this being a recurring issue in the area, with the informal settlements now growing out of proportion due to the overcrowding.

“There is so much more people there compared to three of four years ago, and our infrastructure cannot handle any more people. Even the police were not informed about these people being moved into the area,” she noted.

During the march, a memorandum addressed to Mayor Patricia de Lille was handed over to the areas ward councillor. Amongst the demands listed was for an immediate moratorium to be place on any more families being brought into the informal settlements.

Van Willingh said they were also looking for the City of Cape Town to provide them with information about the long and short term plans for those in the settlements, including whether the residents would be offered proper housing at some point.

Other demands included an immediate investigation into the cities opening of drug rehab centres in the area, which she claimed were also done without any consultation with the community.

“The alarming thing about the centres were that these people have complete access to come and go as they please. I have been to a few of them on a number of occasions, and I’ve never seen drug rehab programmes being run there,” she claimed.

She also suggested the rehab centres were not being used for the benefit of the Strandfontein community themselves, claiming that at least one centre was being used to house people from Hanover Park.

Having received the memorandum on behalf of the city, Strandfontein ward councillor, Elton Enrique Jansen, said he had looked into the issue, including speaking to the respective rehab centres. The information from that investigation would be presented to the community at a public meeting on Wednesday, after having the chance to verify it.

“Yes I have done my homework, and I will be giving that feedback meeting on the 6th of August,” he said.

He also noted that the centres at the middle of the allegations would be given an opportunity to address the communities concerns at the meeting.

As far as the claims of overcrowding in the informal settlements, Jansen said he had taken a clear stance that he would not accept the relocation of “informal dwellers” to the area. However, he admitted to being overruled by the city on this specific occasion.

He blamed the lack on consultation with the community on the fact that the relocation process had been fast-tracked, due to the city experiencing heavy rains at the time. He said the immediate concern of the City of Cape Town had been to make sure the families in question had a roof over their head as soon as possible.

“In principle, I am still standing by that view. This incident that happened a few weeks ago where residents were moved from Tafelsig, even when the City of Cape Town made that decision, I was still against it,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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