Protecting the vlei

2016-05-24 06:00
A community member relaxes at the Langvlei as she enjoys the cool breeze and watches birds play in the water. Though the Langvlei is threatened at the moment residents say they will do what ever it takes to protect it PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

A community member relaxes at the Langvlei as she enjoys the cool breeze and watches birds play in the water. Though the Langvlei is threatened at the moment residents say they will do what ever it takes to protect it PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Nothing beats the feeling of sitting next to the water and watching the birds as they take a splash.

Not many people have that in their community, and many have to pay to enjoy such a tranquil view.

Having been blessed with the beautiful Langvlei in their area, people in Lakeview say they will do whatever it takes to protect it.

Over the past few weeks, Lakeview Neighbourhood Watch had their hands full with people stealing from the Langvlei.

A few weeks ago a man was caught taking the grass from the vlei. He was caught red-handed with a trolley full of grass, which he allegedly sells to other communities.

They have also caught people stealing Egyptian geese which the suspects allegedly sell for R200 and the eggs for R90.

The watch has also been struggling with people that go there to drink. After they are done, they dump their bottles in the water.

To make sure that all this doesn’t continue to happen, the Lakeview Neighbourhood Watch is working towards having a fence around the vlei and a gate so that they can monitor who comes in and out of the vlei. They will also create a path to make it easier for people visiting the vlei to enjoy walks around the area.

Monica Petersen, chairperson of the neighbourhood watch, says they want to maintain the beauty of the vlei.

“This is something that we are blessed with. It’s so nice to sit there with your family and watch the birds but there are people who destroy it, and we won’t allow them,” says Petersen.

“The vlei is very important to us. We have to look after it. All the species that live there make our lives better as well, so we need them. If we allow people to destroy it, we can just as well kiss it goodbye. Other people have to pay to enjoy birdlife or go to such places, but we are blessed to have it here,” she says.

In an effort to stop people from dumping rubbish in the vlei and stealing grass from it, there has been an educational awareness project, Petersen explains.

“We had a conservationist who told us all we need to know about the vlei and its importance. People were told that the grass that is harvested close to the vlei is not good for gardens. It will eventually die because it needs a lot of water,” she says.

“If people need grass for their garden, they should go buy some at garden centres. People must also stop feeding the geese. These are wild birds and by feeding them you’re taking away their wildness.”

The neighbourhood watch says they are also working on having the vlei cleaned up as people are dumping in it.

They also hope to have invasive species cleaned out as well.

Belinda Walker, Mayoral Committee member for community services and special projects, says people are warned that if they are caught they will be criminally charged for stealing an indigenous species of grass or animal.

“The grass is indigenous, which grows in its natural state and does not require any form of maintenance. The removal of the grass, as well as any animals, constitutes a criminal offence and as such does not carry a fine. Any person caught will be criminally charged and prosecuted,” she says.

“However, one has to realise that criminal charges can only be instituted if there are witnesses to the crime who are prepared to testify in court.”

“Unfortunately, many cases are lost due to the fact that witnesses are not willing to attend court,” Walker says.
The Langvlei forms part a greater stormwater catchment area. This stormwater run-off flows into Langvlei and from there it eventually flows into Zandvlei. From this it can be seen that the vlei forms an integral part of the stormwater management for the area north of its location.”

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