Field’s troubles grow high

2017-10-31 06:01

An open field in District Six is being called a safety hazard, as neighbours fret over the long grass and informal structures on the site.

The empty field in Rutger Street is covered in waist-high grass, which, due to the drought, has become a fire hazard, says neighbour Zahrah Nordien. This concern is compounded by an increasing number of informal structures on the field, with the residents using fire to cook and keep warm.

When People’s Post visited the site, there were a dozen structures, many of which could barely be seen due to the uneven ground and tall grass.

Nordien says she consulted with the previous ward councillor and was told that funding was available to clear the site almost a year ago. The cutting of grass and levelling of the field has yet to take place and she has since been referred to the new ward councillor, Brandon Golding, whose response she is waiting for.

She says, in the meantime, she and her neighbours are growing increasingly ­frustrated.

“Do they want District Six to be a slum again so they can push us out? We’ve been disposed before and sent to the townships. What became of our children? What does the City of Cape Town do for us? What takes so long?” Nordien says.

Golding says the issue has been raised with him and that the land was cleared around two years ago.

However, he explains, clearing the field “is not a quick job”, as it would require levelling of the site with earthmoving equipment and this would need both budget and equipment from the City.

In addition, Golding explains, the site is currently in a land claim process. This means there is a division of duties between different spheres of government, including the national Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

However, Golding adds, the area needs to be treated as a precinct as there are multiple areas that are in need of cleaning. Addressing only one field would only compound the issues at other sites in the area, he says.

Measures are in place to address some of the safety concerns, with Golding in discussions with community organisations to raise funds to have the most problematic sites cleared.

He has also allocated funds to install a camera in Russel Street, which will have a view over the Rugter Street field, and says anti-land invasion operations take place every second week.

In addition, he has also asked for a lighting assessment of the area to be done.

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