LETTER: I understand their anger

2015-11-17 06:00

I am not a big Facebooker or social media person, but as we live in the valley and are neighbours of Masiphumelele, I feel it is needed to express my feeling with you about our elective representatives, the DA councillors.

Masi has about 40 000 residents. To put that in perspective, Fish Hoek has 9000. Fish Hoek has a real police station, a fire department, a hospital, numerous schools and a non-existent crime rate in comparison to Masi.

What I don’t understand is that since all these outbreaks of anger started, none of the councillors have come out and spoken directly to us, but more importantly, to the residents of Masi.

Where is Felicity Purchase? Your constituency needs you more than ever, children are being killed, women are being raped. You are being paid to jump up and down for us, stand on the barricades and scream your lungs out to protect the innocent. You should make Patricia de Lille’s life a living nightmare, asking her to commit funds and get done what is needed.

Dan Plato came and spoke to the community, but aren’t you supposed to lead us out of this misery? There is a community forum on Facebook of which you are a member. You have not spoken once.

You were once the mayor of Fish Hoek, you have been here for donkey years. Haven’t you had enough time to turn Masi into a pleasant place to live, where people feel safe?

Maybe it’s time for you to move on and have some fresh representatives take over your job, because when we look at what you have achieved for the residents of Masi, I don’t see much.

I have read that the police have their own agenda and decisions relating to police are not made here. That may be true but I still believe that if you had been the biggest pain in the butt of Dan Plato and the mayor, more could have been achieved by you as there is no police presence in Masi.

To make it clear, I am not politically connected, I happen to live here in the valley and I think I understand why the people in Masi are angry.

Emily Coetzee, Sun Valley

Response from ward councillor Felicity Purchase:

A quick look at the census of 2011 shows a very different population figure. Fish Hoek figures are one thing but the valley includes Sun Valley, Capri, Sunnydale, Milkwood Park, Noordhoek, De Oude Weg, Lochiel Road smallholdings, Imhoff’s Gift and Blue Waters Estate, Ocean View and Kommetjie. We need to also remember Glencairn and Simon’s Town.

I think it is necessary to explain that Fish Hoek was a municipality separate from Simon’s Town and the then regional services council which dealt with the rural areas. Each of these has a fire station. Simon’s Town and Fish Hoek fire stations remain and Noordhoek fire station was closed in the late 90s.

Having said this, the CSIR report on social facilities has highlighted that most of the fires in the valley are taking place west of the four-way intersection and in an attempt to provide a more efficient service, the Fish Hoek fire station will be relocated to a position on Kommetjie Road nearer to Masi and Ocean View.

The schools were developed over the years around communities and supported by those communities.

There is no excuse for the poor policing that the Ocean View policing precinct has received over the past five years. However, we have finally been heard and there is a new station commander.

During these last six weeks of civil unrest and public violence in and around Masi, I, as the ward councillor, together with my colleagues, have been on the ground working to stabilise the area and allow the innocent victims to go about their normal daily lives. We ensured help was provided to those who required medical attention, as well as providing refreshments to the services that were required to be on duty throughout this period.

Meetings were held with community leaders during this time as well as church leaders and business leaders and taxi association members. Every effort was made to restore peace. These meetings were sometimes also attended by senior police officials to negotiate an end to violence. The trouble was that when the community leaders tried to negotiate with the youth, they were ignored.

I have never been mayor of Fish Hoek. We provide services to Masi as we do to other communities. This is also a democracy and anyone is entitled to make themselves available for election as ward councillor.

Masi is one of the most fortunate of our townships in that it has the highest number of NGOs working in the area. Perhaps if the writer wanted to help, she could start by joining one of these very worthwhile organisations in the field of her choice.

They do, however, suffer from acute overcrowding as a result of shack farming, where tenants in the backyards provide an income to the landlord.

I wish to point out that we need to live by the rule of law. We cannot condone the brutal necklacing of people, whatever their crime. We also cannot condone the slaughter of others, let alone in front of children. Then there is the burning of state equipment, namely two police vehicles and a navy bus.

Eight people died in this unrest. People trying to go to work were intimated, were forced to take part in marches. The stripping naked of a woman caught and the breaking of a man’s legs who wanted to go to work. I am sure there are many other stories I was not witness to.

People’s homes were burnt, businesses were damaged, boats and cars burnt and the list goes on.

We must allow the police and the judicial processes to now run their course.

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